Marines welcomed back to Chicago suburbs

December 19, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Family members and friends of the two young men said they had a lot to celebrate in the coming week.

Both men just returned from seven-month tours of duty in Afghanistan, and both are men of few words, reluctant to talk about their accomplishments and taken by surprise with their respective homecomings.

Just minutes after leaving O'Hare International Airport, 26-year-old Marine Sgt. Roland LeBlanc got a reception from the Warriors Watch Riders. LeBlanc had been back in the United States for a couple of days, but flew home to the Chicago area Sunday.

"It's pretty awesome. It's pretty cool, totally unexpected," LeBlanc said.

LeBlanc is a Purple Heart recipient. He also received a phone call from President Barack Obama Thanksgiving Day.

"He wanted to thank me for my service. It was quick, but it was cool," the Marine said.

After the homecoming, the Riders formed a procession to lead LeBlanc to his parents' Lake in the Hills home.

But LeBlanc's wasn't the day's only homecoming.

In Naperville, another Marine, Corporal Torin Costello, was similarly surprised, this time by Illinois' Operation Welcome You Home.

"[It's] overwhelming. I didn't expect it at all. I thought I would get home, grab a beer, watch some TV. It takes some getting used to, but it's nice," Costello said.

After his initial reception at a Chicago-area hotel, Costello got a procession of his own to the Judd Kendal VFW Hall for a party with family and friends.

"We're excited, but my biggest feeling is grateful. Our prayers were answered," said mother Anne Costello.

When asked what he wanted to do during his leave, Costello said, "Nothing. Nothing at all." His is certainly, an earned rest.

Both Costello and LeBlanc will be home for 20 days. After that, they head back to training in Camp Pendleton, followed by another deployment some time near the end of next year.

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