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Six soldiers welcomed home in Peotone

A crowd of well-wishers in Peotone welcomed home six Illinois Arm National Guard veterans Saturday. It was the largest "welcome home" event thrown by the Peotone Legion's Adopt a Soldier program.

Members of the 933rd Military Police Company returning from approximately three years in Afghanistan were paraded from Legion home to the Will County fairgrounds. They were on classified missions at four remote posts which included guard operations and prison escort.

Justin Hoogeweg, 21, of Peotone; Greg Prunsky, 21, of Frankfort; Jeffrey Blokel, 20, of Manteno; Brandon Johnson, 23, of Braidwood; Amanda Johnson, 22, of Braidwood; and Cooper Ider, 21, of Virdon, each with the rank of specialist, were escorted to Peotone American Legion Post 392 from the Will County Fairgrounds.
Warriors Watch Riders, family, friends, World War II military vehicles, and Peotone police and fire vehicles created a raucous presence along a circuitous two-mile route into town.

Residential and downtown streets were lined with well-wishers waving American flags and cheering for the soldiers who sat waving from the bed of a large military transport vehicle. Utility poles and trees along the route were decorated with yellow ribbons, and homes and businesses decorated red, white, and blue for the Fourth of July were more than appropriate for the occasion.

After Sue Wackerlin, Adopt a Soldier program coordinator, welcomed the young soldiers and thanked them for their service, she invited the Vietnam veterans to the stage to honor them for the welcome "they deserved but never got."

94.1 FM, WGFA