Welcome Home!

A Naperville couple welcomed home their son, a corporal in the U.S. Marines, for the first time in two years. Little did he know they were planning a secret party in his honor.

Operation Welcome You Home, an organization that plans homecomings for local servicemen and women, surprised marine Kyle Hester at his parents’ home.

But this time the group had more than one person to welcome. His new wife, fellow marine Shantay, who he met on the firing range while stationed in Okinawa Japan, and their new baby girl Carlie, joined Hester.

“It’s pretty overwhelming, good stuff,” said Kyle. “I just heard the motorcycles coming down. I knew about them, but didn’t think they were showing up here today.”

“It just sounded like a freight train coming in,” said Shantay. “It was amazing though. Completly surprised.”

Friends and family gathered in the front yard all offering their appreciation to the couple. This trip was extra special Kyle’s parents; they got to meet their son’s new family for the very first time.

“We were so excited; we were at the airport waiting and waiting,” said Warren Hanson, Kyle’s dad. “The first glimpse was just like ‘wow.’ It’s been so long since we’ve seen Kyle and now we got to meet Tay and Carlie our new granddaughter.”

“I’ve seen Shantay in pictures and just holding Carlie for the first time,” said Vickie Hanson, Kyle’s mom. “It was awesome. I can’t get enough of her. We keep encouraging them to go out at night so we can have the baby.”

The couple was honored to have so many people show their support.

“It’s absolutely amazing for all these people that I don’t even know to come here and support me and my husband,” said Shantay. “It shows us how much they appreciate what we do, even though it might not seem like a lot, but it’s monumental to us.”

The Hester family is back in Japan and looking forward to settling down and growing their new family.


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