Area soldier gets patriotic welcome home

April 3, 2008 4:06:36 PM PDT
A patriotic homecoming Thursday for a suburban soldier just returning from Iraq: The Patriot Guard gave a fitting tribute to Army First Sergeant Robert Ochsner in Beach Park Thursday afternoon for his service and dedication to defending our country.

Ochsner served two tours of duty in Iraq. He'll be at home for at least the next year.

Like many self-effacing soldiers, Sgt. Ochsner thought he'd just slip in, see some family and have a bit of rest back home. But his neighbors and friends would have none of it. They honored him, and his family, whose jubilation in welcoming a son home from Iraq was affected by the memory of the soldier son they lost in Afghanistan.

From the dust of Iraq to the tidy confines of suburban Chicago. First Sgt. Robert Ochsner is home

"This all beats winning the lottery," said Sgt. Ochsner.

"I want to thank everybody, the Patriot guys, all my friends and everybody that came out. It was great that you should do this for us," said Ochsner's father.

His dad Bob laughs off the waning, now, but still searing pain of losing his other son, James, in 2005. An explosive device was detonated near his Humvee in another far off war.

Bad weather in Chicago delayed the 40-year-old's homecoming from Fort Bragg four days. He considers the outpouring in part a tribute to his brother.

"It just kept snowballing. Every time we went a couple of miles we would stop and there would be more and more and people would. It is overwhelming, all the support and everything," said First Sgt. Robert Ochsner.

After settling in to his parents home, from which he's been coming and going for 23 years in the Army, Sgt. Ochsner talks about his wife, who is deployed in Iraq, and says he deals with his brother's loss as a pair of soldiers under his command dealt with the loss of their brothers.

"Each one of them, you know, said, look, I'm here, now the fight is personal, and you maintain your professionalism, obviously, but at the same time you say, look, I am not going to quit I am not scared," said Sgt. Ochsner. "Cops get out there, firemen get out, mailman, sell insurance, sell cars, they just do whatever to put food on their families table. That's the way I look at this, I'm doing something that I love to do, and that's why I have done it 23 years."


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