Local airman returns from Afghanistan tour

June 8, 2013 (BARTLETT, Ill.)

"I truly appreciate what you guys do," Taylor said. "It's harder on you guys than it is on me. I understand that. Because when I'm over there, it's another day. I signed up for this."

This was Taylor's second tour. His first was to Iraq in 2010. This time, he was attached to an Army unit in Kandahar. It was Taylor's job to disarm IED's.

His mother recalls the heart-stopping day she turned on the news to hear that a helicopter, like the ones her son rides in had gone down.

"'Mom, I'm ok,'" Mary Lou Taylor read from an email. "'But he was my friend, the pilot, so please say a prayer for the five members because they were in my squad.'"

Also present at Saturday's homecoming was Korean War vet Bob O'Brien. The Warrior Watch surprised him with a much-belated welcome home just this morning.

"Got to give back," O'Brien said. "For years I've thanked guys for their service, like I had been in the past. But this is super special. I was flabbergasted. Could not talk. Tears ran down my eyes."

And Taylor isn't done with the military just yet. Sunday he's flying back to base in preparation for a move to Seattle, where he will begin the next phase in his career.

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