While Americans nationwide honored those who tragically lost their lives in the 9/11 attacks, one Naperville-based group honors such heroes year-round. The group Operation Welcome You Home plans surprise homecomings for returning military personnel year-round.
Local resident Donna Morsovillo is the founder and president of the organization. While vice president of the Lady’s Auxiliary in 2008, a mom had asked Donna to find her son a ride home from the airport. From there similar events snowballed into the not-for-profit.
Donna continues to spend countless hours every day making each homecoming just as special as the last.
“I get the initial request, we work with the family through the details, we contact the police, the fire departments,” said Donna. “I put it on our website, blast out an email, send out press releases.”
But she says meeting the troops makes it it’s all worth it.
“I can’t even express or say how it feels,” she said. “I could be sitting at the computer at 11 at night and I’m tired cause I’ve been sitting there all day but then I get a request, ‘My son is coming home’ and it just makes the smile come on again because another one’s coming home safe!”
Upon their safe return, the Naperville Fire and Police Departments escort the troops and their family and friends home or sometimes to a party at the local VFW.
“The support just means so much more and it puts purpose to what we’re doing,” said Richard Boschsero, a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps.
Donna’s husband Jim knows first-hand the importance of these homecomings. After serving in the Vietnam War, he never got such a welcome.
“When we came back, we were like the forgotten child or the enemy. People didn’t want anything to do with it [the war]” said Jim. “Our troops should never be treated like we were and it’ll never happen again because we’ll make sure of it.”
That determination is the motivation for the organization’s motto: “If you can’t stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them.”
“It doesn’t matter if you believe in the war or are for the war,” said Donna. “What matters right now is supporting our kids that are going over there and putting their lives on the line for us.”
If you know of a returning soldier or marine, volunteers with the group encourage you to visit www.operationwelcomeyouhome.org to request a homecoming.
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