CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait City (WCCO) – There are currently more than 600 members of the Minnesota National Guard deployed in Kuwait. This week, we're proud to share their stories.
WCCO-TV's Reg Chapman and photojournalist Tom Aviles are embedded with the 34th Red Bull Infantry Division at Camp Arifjan.
Cpl. Michael Harris found a home away from home at the Red Cross Resiliency Center at Camp Arifjan.
"I typically bake a couple nights a week here at the Red Cross," Harris said.
Cpl. Harris says he stumbled upon the Red Cross on base. The staff was so welcoming he kept coming back.
"Initially, I didn't sign up to be a volunteer, I just showed up and helped out and they twisted my arm and said, 'Hey, go ahead and sign up and then when you go home, you can continue to serve the Red Cross in your community,'" Harris said.
Harris, who is from St. Paul, knows through his volunteerism he can help people in his hometown when he returns, but that's months away so he keeps baking and volunteering. The Red Cross in Kuwait found a way to say thanks.
"I got the award the first week of May and I was nominated by the Red Cross staff in Kuwait for the volunteer of the year award," Harris said.
The award sits on his desk. Harris is a paralegal with the Red Bulls' legal team known as the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate.
"I joined a little less than four years ago," Harris said.
Cpl. Harris says he joined the guard late in life after he was inspired by coworkers at Stillwater Correctional Facility.
"I work with lieutenants at Stillwater who recently deployed to the Sinai," Harris said. "I work with other officers that deployed with the National Guard."
We caught up with Cpl. Harris doing what he does best: Volunteering – this time at the Embassy in Kuwait.
"We are delivering what's called the Pillowcase Project to children here and it's to prepare them for emergencies – being able to evacuate and leave their home," Harris said.
It's that work that separates Cpl. Harris from others. So far, he has logged 400 volunteer hours with the Red Cross and he hopes to reach 500 hours before he returns home.
Proud to serve his country and community, this Red Bull says he is honored to wear the uniform and the Unit patch recognized across the globe.
"The National Guard provides a ton of opportunities both professionally educationally," Harris said. "This has been an amazing opportunity."
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