McHENRY – After completing a seven-month tour in Afghanistan, McHenry native Lance Cpl. Jacob Savage on Saturday was treated to a surprise homecoming.
His family organized for the Warriors’ Watch Riders, a national veterans group, to welcome back Savage, who had returned to McHenry prior to the weekend.
Savage said he had no idea about the special homecoming until he heard the motorcade arrive at the Savages’ home.
“I was wishing [my family] didn’t do it, but once everything got going, I was really excited that it was happening,” he said.
Members from Warriors’ Watch took the 22-year-old on his own motorcade to his fiancee’s house in McHenry for a family celebration, complete with a pig roast. Once arriving, the group conducted a quick ceremony for Savage, who also was presented with a certificate signed by Mayor Sue Low.
Savage said he was grateful for the experience because he met many veterans, from Vietnam to Desert Storm, who made up the Warriors’ Watch party. The organization has groups throughout the country that greet returning and departing active service members.
Savage also was grateful to return home after spending seven months in southern Afghanistan while operating tactical machines and doing convoy work.
The 2009 McHenry High School graduate enlisted at the end of that year before leaving for a station in Okinawa, Japan, in August 2010. While in Afghanistan, he drove seven-ton trucks and Humvees and helped transport supplies.
His tour in Afghanistan was marked by homesickness, new friendships and new experiences, he said. He had spotty contact with his family in McHenry, going weeks and sometimes a month without any communication.
“It feels really good,” Savage said of his return home. “I missed everybody a lot.”
Savage isn’t done with his military work. He returns to Okinawa on Sept. 21 for six months before being stationed stateside. He still hasn’t been informed of his duties there.
A soldier from Huntley, Daniel Bacino, also was going to be greeted home by the Illinois Patriot Guard Riders on Saturday, but his flight was delayed in Germany.
Village officials posted on Huntley’s Facebook page that the community celebration for his return will be at 11 a.m. today.