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Local Gold Star mother returns home to an emotional surprise

Belinda Swinney’s son was one of five servicemen killed in a helicopter crash in Egypt last month
Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 8:59 PM CST
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MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WIFR) - An emotional day in Machesney Park Thursday, for a touching tribute by the Stateline community to try to make the best of what has been the worst days of a Gold Star mother’s life.

Belinda Swinney is the mother of Chief Warrant Officer Dallas Garza. Garza was an army pilot who was one of five servicemen killed on November 12, after their Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Egypt. Garza, a Janesville native, had proposed to his girlfriend just one day before the crash.

The community responded to this tragedy Thursday, placing flags near Swinney’s Machesney Park home as she and her two daughters returned from Dallas’ funeral. Friends, family, military personnel and veterans were among the dozens waiting for Belinda to make it home for a touching ceremony honoring this hometown hero.

“He was my son, and when I saw it on the news that a helicopter went down in Egypt, I knew it was him,” said Swinney. “My husband looked at me and said ‘no, don’t worry yet.’ Two hours later, they were at my door.”

“I needed this to come home,” Swinney said.

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