CRYSTAL LAKE – Post 9/11, Kevin Heath made a choice to join the U.S. Army, considering it for the first time as a career.
Heath’s younger brother, Malcolm, through an exchange of smirks between the two, said that he looked up to his big brother and after participating in ROTC during college, decided to follow in his footsteps. The two served at the same duty station for three years, forming a true bond as brothers.
“The three most important things in my life are family, faith and flag,” Kevin Heath said. “To have all three in one place, is truly the best.”
Now back for nearly a year after deployment in both Afghanistan and Iraq, Cpt. Kevin Heath joined family and friends Sunday afternoon to welcome 1st Lt. Malcolm Heath home from his tour in Afghanistan acting as a security force advisor.
Malcolm Heath’s in-laws, Joe and Janet Chybik of Crystal Lake, helped arrange the event with The Warriors’ Watch Riders. The WWR performed a “mug and hug” for both men, to the tune of nearly 20 motorcycles and a crowd of enthusiastic WWR members.
“It’s a great honor and surprise to have this many people welcome me back to the states,” Malcolm Heath said. “It’s really wonderful to see such a big show of support.”
The brothers were presented with mission beads and honor coins in gratitude for their service. Amongst friends and family members was a Vietnam and Korean War veteran, as well as their grandfather, 92-year-old Donald McCormick, a World War II veteran.
When asked what they missed most while they were away, both brothers were very candid in their responses. Malcolm Heath admitted to missing the simple act of picking out his own clothes and having more than two options of attire.
Kevin Heath said he appreciated the smells here; that it smelled clean and good in this country. However, at the top of their list, were family and friends.
“We have a great band of brothers over there but we wouldn’t be anything without our family and friends here,” Kevin Heath said.
Proud mother Ann McCormick said she was very happy to have her sons home safe. She said she was proud of them but happy that her nerves will now be in for a break.
“It’s something that you think about constantly,” McCormick said. “No matter what you’re doing or what time of day, it’s always on your mind. When they’re away the more contact you can have, the better.”
Both brothers are to return to their bases, Kevin Heath to Fort Bragg in North Carolina and Malcolm Heath to Fort Lewis in Washington with his wife, Jackie, and 19-month-old son, Jack. Neither have plans for future deployment.