UPDATED AT 10:30 P.M. SATURDAY, SEPT. 8: Daniel Bacino will arrive home to Huntley at noon, Sunday, Sept. 9. A ceremony at Huntley's downtown square will be held at that time.
When Danny Bacino comes home Saturday after serving two tours each in Iraq and Afghanistan, he will get a hero’s welcome.
“Everything is going well,” said Frank Rubino, Bacino’s stepfather. Rubino helped raise the 25-year-old Huntley High School graduate. “We really want people to get out and welcome him home.”
Plans call for the Patriot Guard to escort Bacino’s limo down Route 47 to the village square on Main Street. Huntley police will join in the procession through town. A short ceremony will be held at the gazebo in downtown Huntley.
The original plan called for the Patriot Guard Riders to escort Bacino from O’Hare International Airport to Huntley but Rubino said that plan changed for safety reasons due to construction on Interstate 90.
Bacino has served four years in the U.S. Army, including doing two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he was involved in active combat.
American Legion Post 673 has been helping Rubino plan the homecoming ceremony, he said.
“We want to make sure all the veterans are welcomed home with open arms,” American Legion Post 673 Senior Vice Commander JR Westburg said.
Westburg has known Bacino since the Army soldier was a teenager. “He came back a few years ago and he really grew into a young man carrying more responsibility on his shoulders. Overall, he is just very respectful,” Westburg said.
The Legion will present Bacino with a one-year paid membership.
The post has 240 members mostly from the Vietnam and Korean Wars. Membership from the Gulf War and the current conflicts is lower, said Westburg, himself a Gulf War veteran who served in the U.S. Airforce.
Because America has been involved in conflicts almost continuously since the Gulf War, there are many veterans who qualify for membership with the Legion but Post 673 isn’t seeing younger veterans joining, Westburg said.
The Legion has much to offer veterans, including information on VA home loans, benefits, assistance with Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and lots of other resources, Westburg said.
The Legion also works with the Veterans Assistance Commission of McHenry County to provide help for veterans.
“I think the public persona is we are a bunch of veterans telling war stories but the reality is we are guys who have a similar background who have formed a brotherhood,” Westburg said.
Coming home as a veteran requires some transition, Westburg said. For years, you see nothing but military vehicles and there’s a process and procedures for everything you do, he said.
“Then those procedures are gone,” he said. “I think the transition is not as stressful for us as much for the guys getting out now.”
He does know of a handful of Gulf War veterans who have PTSD and the Legion has provided resources for those vets.
Saturday’s events will include a few speeches and the Legion will provide hot dogs for the public afterward in its home.
Westburg said the public can start arriving at the downtown square between 12:45 and 1 p.m. Saturday. People should keep in mind there may be flight delays or other delays. “If everyone does start to gather early, we hope everyone understands to have patience.”
“We want to let the public know we are open to them,” Westburg said, adding the Legion’s mission is to serve veterans and their families.
“As a community, we are here to help them and we want the rest of the veterans and moms and dads of other veterans to know we will arrange the same thing over and over again,” Westburg said.