North Riverside was a sight of jubilation for many families able to see hold and talk to their loved ones for the first time in 12 months, as solders from the Illinois Army National Guard returned for a homecoming ceremony Friday morning.
Groups of families from close and far awaited their loved ones with welcome home signs and other hospitable messages, as soldiers from the 1244th Transportation Company made their way off buses escorted by local area law enforcement.
A sigh of relief clouded over the North Riverside Armory for an 8-year-girl whose parents were both deployed overseas last summer. Her mother, Sgt. Bonnie Dumas, was there to give an emotional welcome back.
"It was extremely hard, but thanks to the support of our families we were able to get through it," said Dumas.
Spc. Victor Hernandez was reunited with his 9-month-old daughter for only the second time since going overseas. He was there for her birth but was deployed soon after.
"There’s not a word that I can say that could describe how I feel about my daughter," said Hernandez. "She’s the next generation for me, so I’m just so happy."
The unit completed approximately 220 convoy missions which totaled about 3.8 million miles while moving about 170 pounds of cargo.
All 162 members who deployed last September made it home safely.