Orland Hills Marine back home, hugging mom

September 21, 2011 4:16:38 PM PDT
There was a welcome home celebration Wednesday night for a suburban Marine who was seriously wounded in Afghanistan.

ABC7's Stacy Baca has more on the homecoming that stretched from Chicago to southwest suburban Orland Hills.

With a police escort and honorary position right up front, Marine Sgt. Donald Raymond was escorted home to Orland Hills. But, before his plane touched down at Midway, his mother waited nearby, and the Warrior Watch Riders joined her, with flags in hand.

"I haven't seen him in almost two years, and it will be nice to finally get my hands on him," said Raymond's mother Tammy Swanson.

"It's been a long time coming. I'm just so proud of him," said Raymond's stepfather Bill Kocsis.

Raymond is an injured warrior. A sniper shot him in the shoulder a year ago in Afghanistan. Wednesday, a friend picked Raymond up at the airport and drove him to see his mom first.

"My heart is in my stomach right now," Raymond said. "It's been two years since I've been home, definitely a long time coming."

After a hug from mom, it was a hug from his stepfather and a welcome home handshake from every Warrior Watch Rider.

"They fight for us, and we have to do something for them," said Warrior Watch Rider Jack Russe.

Once in Orland Hills, firefighters joined the escort through town. His sisters had no idea about his homecoming. They held him tight.

Tears and tokens of appreciation -- all gifts for a Marine who gets to spend five days at home.

"I love my country. I appreciate it every day," said Raymond.

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