Chicago Marine surprised by early holiday celebration

November 24, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Plans for a block party moved indoors. No matter the location, it was a celebration for a Marine's home on leave.

"I was just like oh wow ... you are kind of left in awe for a couple seconds," said Sgt. Ric Romero, U.S. Marine Corps.

Sgt. Romero did three tours of duty -- two in Iraq and the most recent in Afghanistan. This is his first trip back to Chicago since his last deployment.

"It's really good to see everybody happy and living a good life. It's just rewarding to know for a special holiday like this we were able to get together and just have a great time before I head back," said Sgt. Romero.

During his last visit in 2009 he married Michelle Romero, an Army reservist. She says she has much to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.

"I'm just really grateful that my husband's back. He's done three tours, and I've done one," said Michelle Romero. "We're both in the military and we both understand to be grateful for the little things in life."

Sgt. Romero's mother wanted his visit to end with a public celebration for her son who has served and returned.

"I'm proud that he's back. I still hug him and kiss him and say this is my son," said Rosalinda Romero, mother.

When the weather looked daunting for a block party, her alderman helped find shelter for the celebration at Church of the Epiphany.

"I think we just have to thank our young men and women who have sacrificed so much, their time effort, their lives for us who are still at home," said Ald. Bob Fioretti, 2nd Ward.

Sgt. Romero is celebrating Thanksgiving a little early because Thursday he returns to base where it's unclear when or if he'll be deployed again.

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