It was two times the welcome home yesterday for U.S. Army Reserve Spc. Josh Cruz, 27, who arrived back in Romeoville from his tour of duty in Afghanistan at 2:30 a.m. Sunday to a crowd of people waiting to show their support and appreciation for his service.
“One man even came out in his bathrobe,” said Donna Morsovillo, founder and president ofOperation Welcome You Home (OWYH).
Thanks to the clever planning of his wife, Amanda Cruz, OWYH was able to surprise him once again at 11 a.m. in the parking lot of, located on Weber Road in Romeoville.
Born in Hawaii, Cruz moved to when he was 15 years old, going on to graduate from Plainfield Central High School in 2003. Now a Romeoville resident, Cruz is a mechanic with the 863rd Engineer Battalion based out of Darien.
A flag line of more grateful citizens greeted Cruz for a second time as he, his wife and two sons drove into the parking lot, where a Marine One limousine, provided compliments of American Limousine of Naperville, awaited him.
“Are you ready to go for a ride?” Cruz said to his sons after graciously greeting a group of well-wishers that included Romeoville Mayor John Noak.
Guided by members of the , a procession of cars, motorcycles, fire engines and even one man on a bicycle led the way on Cruz’s ride home.
Morsovillo said that it is a special part of the car procession for the military member to be driven behind the line of vehicles so that they can have a chance to see it stretch out in front them and take it all in.
Cruz did just that as drivers honked their horns and onlookers gave him a wave from the sidewalks as the procession passed by.
More friends and family waited outside the Cruz home to greet the returning soldier at his front door, where Morsovillo presented him with gifts from local businesses, including one free pizza per month for a year from Domino's Pizza and free dinner and dessert for two from Culver's.
“Can we get a babysitter too?” Amanda Cruz joked as the couple thanked everyone for their generosity.
Members of OWYH, the Fox Valley Marines, American Legion Post 52 of Romeoville and Warriors Watch each presented Cruz with their own token of appreciation in the form of medals, plaques, banners signed by residents of Romeoville, a blessed rosary and a T-shirt.
The crowd applauded and thanked Cruz one last time before going out to a sing-a-long of “God Bless America.”
“Anytime … I’m happy to do it again,” Cruz said, standing with his wife and sons, ages 2 and 5, by his side.