STATELINE (WIFR) – Three local soldiers are returning from Afghanistan to a hero’s welcome today. A patriotic group of statewide motorcyclists will be joining in on the journey home.
From signs, to American flags, a Loves Park neighborhood is ready to welcome U.S. soldier, specialist Tyler Hankins home. The 20-year-old spent the last nine months in Afghanistan. His mom Laura describes him as a loving and courageous son. Hankins joined the army right after graduating from Harlem High School two years ago. He’s one of three soldiers reuniting with family and friends today.
Fellow Loves Park resident Specialist Donald Voll is another. His mom says this is Donald’s first time home in a year and a half. The 25-year-old has been on a tour for the last seven months. It’ll be a quick reunion as he’ll be returning to his station in Germany in three weeks.
21-year-old specialist Christian New, who is described as a dedicated and loving son will return to his hometown of Lena today. He too will head back to Germany on July 1st.
Family members say they’re anxious to see their three heroes, soldiers who took different paths to Afghanistan, yet are reunited in their journey home.
Each soldier will stop at the Belvidere Oasis before heading to their homes and welcome home parties. It’s not just family and friends welcoming home these soldiers. The Illinois Patriot Guard Riders are a band of non-profit volunteer motorcycle riders whose sole purpose is to honor all veterans past and present.
There are expected to be about 80 to 90 Patriot Guard Riders escorting all three soldiers home. We’ll follow along and bring you the happy homecomings tonight on the 23 News Update at 10.