Chicago soldier returns, surprises daughters

Staff sergeant Chris Maderer served several tours of duty in Afghanistan, but it's a special mission in Chicago that will stay in his heart forever.

April 11, 2013 2:25:32 PM PDT
A Chicago soldier got a warm welcome home Thursday.

Staff sergeant Chris Maderer served several tours of duty in Afghanistan, but it's a special mission in Chicago that will stay in his heart forever.

Maderer is stationed at a base in Texas and was given permission to come home to give a very special surprise to his daughters.

Returning through O'Hare had meaning. Maderer cane back to Chicago after nearly a year in Kuwait. When he's not deployed with the Illinois National Guard, he's a sheet metal worker at O'Hare, and he volunteers with the Patriot Guard and Warrior Watch.

Friends turned out to make sure Maderer not only had a warm welcome but had his motorcycle to ride.

The caravan wasn't done. Maderer was escorted to Norwood Park Elementary School, where one of his daughters and two stepdaughters were taken out of school early.

Lexi, Courtney and Beatrice were concerned at first. Why all the police? Had something happened?

But then they saw the reason for the commotion. Maderer had been away from the girls since last June.

"I didn't know what was happening," said Lexi Wright. "I was about to started crying. I didn't know what was happening. i thought someone got shot."

"My mom told me we were going to take pictures to surprise Chris," said Courtney Wright. "So I thought we were taking pictures."

The welcome was not complete -- there was one more stop. The entourage traveled to Taft High School. In the middle of lunch, Maderer found his oldest daughter, Sarah.

Sara was confused by the attention and stunned to see her dad appear in the middle of the lunchroom.

"I'm in shock," said Sara.

"I've been blessed," said staff sergeant Maderer. "I have five women in the house and they all love me and take care of me. I'm a lucky guy. It's just good to be back home."

An injury brought the staff sergeant home early, so he will miss the big welcome home with his unit, but he doesn't seem to mind.