Mundelein vet comes home

As dozens of friends, relatives and strangers celebrated Lance Cpl. Ian Ward's return home to Mundelein on Wednesday after eight months in Afghanistan, the young Marine admitted being overwhelmed by the attention.

“But it feels really good to see everyone,” the 21-year-old Ward said.

Ward, a rifleman with the 3rd Battalion 7th Marine Regiment, is home for about a month after finishing a combat tour. He flew in late Tuesday night from Las Vegas, where he attended the Marine Corps Birthday Ball.

After a breakfast Wednesday morning at a local restaurant, Ward wearing his dress uniform was treated to a police, fire and motorcycle escort through Mundelein to his home. He rode on the back of a fire truck with his mother, Betsy.

“This is wonderful,” she said. “I'm glad he knows so many people appreciate (his service).”

Neighbor Tom Imholtz was one of the people waiting outside Ward's home for his arrival.

“It's great,” Imholz said. “Everybody's really excited about it. We're really proud of him.”

Joining Imholz were Mundelein trustees Terri Voss and Robin Meier, Assistant Village Administrator Michael Flynn, members of a local American Legion post and other well-wishers. The escorts including Fire Chief Tim Sashko and Police Chief Raymond J. Rose.

Nick Konz, a Wildwood resident and representative of the Lake County Veterans Assistance Commission, presented Ward with a combat cross, an unofficial civilian honor.

“We're just so happy to see him home, safe and sound,” Konz said.

A 2007 Mundelein High School graduate who enlisted about two years ago, Ward expects to head back to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms in California in early December.

After that, he plans to return to Afghanistan with his unit for a second combat tour.

  Lance Cpl. Ian Ward shakes hands with veterans from American Legion Post 867 who gathered to greet him when he returned to his Mundelein home Wednesday after serving in Afghanistan. Gilbert R. Boucher II/
  Lance Cpl. Ian Ward is hugged by veteran Nick Konz of American Legion Post 867 after presenting Ward with the Combat Cross during a ceremony at his Mundelein home Wednesday after serving in Afghanistan. Gilbert R. Boucher II/