Al Kruckeberg, left, and his son, Gilbert, wait for the arriving airplane Friday at Austin Straubel International Airport.
Do not let the opposing team colors fool you. Al and Gilbert Kruckeberg are definitely on the same team when it comes to a certain U.S. Marine just home from Afghanistan.
Officially, Al Kruckeberg is a Green Bay Packers fan, and Gilbert, one of his sons, is a San Francisco 49ers fan. Needless to say, they will not be rooting for the same team when the family gets together to watch Saturday's NFC divisional playoff game between Green Bay and San Francisco.
But the real MVP of this game will be Al Kruckeberg III, a Marine who was returning home Friday after a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan. Al Kruckeberg is grandfather to the 20-year-old Little Chute marine, while Gilbert is an uncle.
The whole family waited Friday at Austin Straubel International Airport to greet the returning hero. Al Kruckeberg was dressed in Packers attire, and Uncle Gilbert could not resist wearing his 49ers gear. But family members said their young relative's service in Afghanistan was helping them keep football in perspective.
"It's a game - that's all it is," Al said.
Gilbert said he has been trading emails with his Packers fan nephew ever since they learned that their favorite teams would meet in the playoffs - and that the nephew would get home just in time to watch the game with family. The two have a friendly wager on the game for a lifetime supply of Taco Bell.
Gilbert, however, said just watching the game with his nephew will be the real victory.
"Win or lose," Gilbert said, "either way, I get to spend time with him."