Operation Welcome You Home volunteers, family, and friends gathered today to surprise Army PFC Ryan Pertile and to welcome him home after nine months in Afghanistan.
Operation Welcome You Home is a not-for-profit that provides respectful, thoughtful, uplifting, and joyous homecomings for military personnel and their families.
“These people are amazing,” said Ryan’s father, Scott Pertile. “We were introduced to them last year. It’s something our Vietnam veterans didn’t get to see 40 years ago, 30 years ago and they’re amongst this group now in support. It’s empowering.”
Well-wishers first gathered at Home Depot for the initial surprise, from there, volunteers formed a motorcade, which escorted Pertile to his home for a celebration in his honor where dozens of neighbors lined the street.
“We pulled in the neighborhood and I immediately had tears in my eyes, it was so overwhelming,” said Annalise Kidston, Ryan’s girlfriend. “It’s so great to see he has all the support because he defiantly deserves it.”
“He was really shocked by the Home Depot turnout, but when we pulled into the street,” said Colleen Pertile, Ryan’s mom. “Those are just neighbors who care enough for someone who has served and want to show their support for the military.”
Groups from all around Naperville presented Ryan with gifts in appreciation for his service.
“I feel like I just ran 1,000 miles right now,” said PFC Pertile when asked about the experience. “I’m out of breath, I’m excited. All my nerves are working up at the same time. I’m happy. I haven’t been home in a year, so it feels good to be back.”
Pertile is a 2011 graduate of Neuqua Valley high school and has served for a little over a year.
“A lot of sleepless night and cried a lot of tears worrying about him,” added Colleen Pertile. “But now, I’m just so happy. It was great just to see his face and touch him.”
Ryan now has three weeks for R&R with his family and friends, and the first thing on his list is to purchase a new Chevy Truck.
After that, he will return to base in White Sands, New Mexico.
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