After serving seven months overseas in Qatar, Air Force Sergeant Dave Evans is finally home. Wednesday marked his first steps back in his home town of Crown Point, and his family took it up on them to give Evans a full fledged hero’s welcome as he made his way back to Northwest Indiana. With the help of the Indiana Patriot Guard, local police and fire departments, and even a couple Mayors, Evans got the welcome home he so deserved.
The result, in short, was a spectacular event to witness.
For returning deployed soldiers’ hero’s welcomes, the Patriot Guard takes it upon themselves to give the soldier a motorcycle brigade to escort them home. Dave’s welcome involved over twenty Patriot Riders, the Hobart Police and Fire Departments, the Griffith Police Department, Lake County Sheriffs, and the Griffith E.M.A.; letting everyone know, as they rode down US 30, that there was a hero in their midst.
“This is our payday - there’s no other better way to put it.” Dale Ready, a Patriot Guard Rider explained. “This is our #1 favorite thing to do. Any time we have a way to honor and respect what these guys do now - we jump at the chance. As a group of Vietnam Vets we don’t want any of these soldiers to have to go through what we did when we came home, and we wouldn’t want to be doing anything else than to be here for them.”
Evans’ father, David Sr., a detective for the Hobart Police Department, felt the same way. Evans was the one who got in contact with the Guard. David Sr. had gotten a hero’s welcome home back in 2005 and it was a moment that he never has forgotten. Because of that fact he decided that when his son came home it was time that he was surprised him with the same incredible moment.
“It’s a little overwhelming going through the process of coming home after being away for so long and it’s important for returning soldiers to be surrounded by an incredible amount of support.” Evans stated. “It was vital for me to make him see that every one that serves is important and that he’s not forgotten. It’s just a sense of joy to see him after seven months and to see that he’s celebrated by so many people who came out to welcome him home.”
It was safe to say that the welcome had the Evans overwhelmed - in the best way possible. As Evans stood in the parking lot of the Crown Point Sports Complex, the end point of his brigade, he was still amazed at the effort everyone had put into making him feel welcomed back.
“I am completely overwhelmed.” Evans stated. “I can’t believe all of the people who turned out for all of this. It really touches me that everyone has taken time out of their day to come here and welcome me home. It’s an incredible thing that the Patriot Guard does for not only me, but all the rest of the soldiers out there. It’s really, really cool.”
As Dave made his final round of thank yous to the Guard and was still marveling at the medal around his neck, any person standing around him could tell that the welcome was something they’ll always be glad to a part of.
Evans’ stepmother Theresa Evans, said that seeing him get his welcome reinforces the fact that more soldiers should have their welcome as well.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling to see him getting all of the love he needs.” Evans explained. “I think every soldier deserves this. Everyone has started to put these things in the background because our soldiers have been deployed for so long, but every single person who leaves their comforts to serve us needs our love and I’m so glad that Dave has that support.”
In the end, Evans and his family left for a private welcome of their own, but it was fair to say that Dave’s first welcome home was something he will never forget; from the moment he stepped out of the car, to when the riders gave him one final hug. The Guard, Evans’ family, and anyone who was there to witness the event won’t let go of that precious moment either, and that’s the way a hero’s welcome home should be.