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Injured soldier welcomed home in Joliet

Monday, May 28, 2012

An injured soldier from Joliet got a memorable Memorial Day experience when he returned home Monday evening to a surprise welcome.

Private First Class Alexis Sylvestre was hurt in Afghanistan. His arrival was, for one Joliet family, the very best way to celebrate Memorial Day.

"To come out here and honor my son coming home, I think that's probably the best thing," said father Vestro Sylvestre.

"Oh, he's so going to be so spoiled," said mother Nancy Hopkins. "Mom will be cooking - I will definitely be cooking."

After three months of extensive surgeries to repair a severe injury to his femur and hip, and with a titanium rod now in his leg, Sylvestre came home to a very special welcome.

Dozens of riders came together to escort this soldier from the Shorewood Police Department where they first surprised him to his house in Joliet.

"They've sacrificed everything," said Denny Tobleck of Soldiers Guardian Angels. "Their families have sacrificed everything and this is the least that we can do to welcome them home, unlike so many of the other veterans that never got anything."

"I want to thank the soldiers still fighting and I wanna thank the soldiers that got hurt just like I did and were by me and helping me every day," said Alexis Sylvestre.

Sylvestre was injured in Kandahar when a humvee his unit was towing ran over his leg. He's currently undergoing rehab at Fort Wainwright in Alaska and has been reunited with his unit which is now back from Afghanistan.

"My buddies take me to the doctors' appointments. They pick me up sometimes. We all do everything together," said Sylvestre. "It's been like that since square one."

Sylvestre will spend three weeks at home before returning to his unit in Alaska to continue with rehabilitation.

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