Monday, July 25, 2011

Salt of The Earth*

Hero's Reception for Returning Soldier -- and His Vietnam Veteran Father Plainfield, Illinois
Alex Pavia surprised by welcome home celebration after two-year stint in Afghanistan; he and his father receive 'quilts of valor' from Fox Valley Marines.
by Robyn Monaghan

Pete Pavia and his son Alex both have Purple Hearts from combat they saw in two different wars.

Pete has a rare cancer that he’s pretty sure is a souvenir from the Agent Orange he was exposed to in Vietnam.

Alex has anxiety attacks and symptoms of a traumatic brain injury after being “blown up several times” during a recent Army tour in Afghanistan, once by an improvised explosive device and once by a rocket-propelled grenade.

Yet both men said Tuesday that they count their blessings as Alex was welcomed home to Plainfield with a motorcade of flag-flying cars and motorcycles organized by Operation Welcome You Home and Warriors' Watch Riders.

“I feel like the luckiest man alive,” Pete Pavia said as a throng of well-wishers encircled the doorstep of his northwest Plainfield home.

Alex Pavia, 21, an Army private first class and Plainfield North High School graduate, has been in Afghanistan since last summer, serving as a forward observer with radio equipment in Kandahar.

He won’t forget helping local children, handing out basics such as shoes and food, he said.

“The things we take for granted …,” he said.

“My dad is the reason I went into the service,” he said. “He served his country and I wanted to do the same.”

*Salt of The Earth
Lyrics by MickJagger & Keith Richards, 1968
Say a prayer for the common foot soldier
Spare a thought for his back breaking work
Say a prayer for his wife and his children
Who burn the fires and who still till the earth

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