Chicago area families mark Armed Forces Day

May 15, 2010 8:53:21 PM PDT
Families in the Chicago area celebrated Armed Forces Day Saturday by recognizing the sacrifices America's servicemen and women have made.For two local members of the military, Saturday was also a happy homecoming.

ABC7 Chicago has covered homecomings for the men and women who serve and also the events when the news is not good. But Saturday, supporters of the troops said their biggest priority was to make sure those who have served in the armed forces are not forgotten.

Thoughts Saturday centered around two Chicago area men, both in their early 20s. Rolling thunder motorcycles roared and honked as flags waived for a double homecoming at a VFW hall in Batavia, Ill. Both Marines were returning home safely from war.

"I don't have much to say. Thank you. This is really cool," said Sgt. Alexander Tobusch, who was returning from his third tour of duty.

At age 23, he has already been to Iraq twice, and most recently, Afghanistan.

Tobusch is from Batavia but lives in California with his wife. They are newlyweds.

"Pure joy of having him home. It's really hard, you know, a lot of lonely days, definitely," said wife Kaileigh Tobusch.

"Never had anything like this before. It's a mix of all emotions," said the Marine. "It means a lot that someone is supporting what we are doing."

Corporal Drew Montgomery, 24, from Naperville was also greeted by his family Saturday after a seven-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.

"Just one day at a time," he said. "All you can do is eat, sleep."

"Each day, you count down the days, you want for them to come back. You have to check Facebook to get a glimpse to see if they have been on and know they are ok," said Denise Montgomery, mother.

Montgomery's mother also has another son in the military who is also home for now. And the story is similar for Tobusch's mother, who also has another son and nephew in the armed forces.

"I didn't get that military phone call. Nobody's knocking on my door. I had a good day. That's how I make it through," said Kathy Tobusch, who helps run the Fox Valley Troop Support group that sends care packages to loved ones at war.

Members of the Rolling Thunder group helped pack the boxes Saturday and donated $1,000.

"People have them in their hearts, but they don't think of them everyday like some of us," said the group's Bill Sharpness.

Both families say the reality is, their marines will most likely have to go back to war. Tobusch says he may not have to return for another year and one-half, but they both say they are ready for anything.

And their families fully support their decisions to serve their country.

Also on Armed Services Day, officials at Navy Pier and the United Service Organization honored hundreds of military men and women.

The singing of the national anthem allowed those attending Saturday to salute the nation's flag and welcome the honorees, who, along with their families, were treated to free Imax movies, cruises, pier park rides, and other entertainment.

The program also included music from a military band, and military exhibits.


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