Brian Antone (center) reads a welcome home card alongside his wife, Sarah (left) and mother, Marybeth, Thursday in Orland Park. | Hannah Kohut~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 1, 2013 6:44AM
Army Specialist Brian Antone knew something was up when his mom asked him to get dressed in his uniform, and he was right.
Waiting in the Jewel-Osco parking lot at 179th Street and Wolf Road were about 30 well-wishers from the Soldiers Guardian Angels and Warrior Watch Riders, two groups of patriotic motorcycle riders who welcome troops home from overseas.
After serving nine months in Afghanistan until July, Antone said he was glad to be back home. He and his unit returned to Fort Campbell in Kentucky July 22 before he arrived in Orland Park on Saturday.
“It’s nice seeing all these people coming out to support (the troops),” the 25-year-old Orland Park native said. “Now that I’m home, all I want to do is go fishing. I’ve been waiting nine months for that.”
Antone worked with field artillery while in Afghanistan, where he protected American bases from enemy attack.
“I shot big cannons, just like in the Civil War,” he said. “Our base got attacked maybe 20 times, and we shot back most of the time.”
The experience in Afghanistan, Antone said, wasn’t as bad for him as it was for other troops.
“It was exciting and boring at the same time,” he said. “It was hot, really hot, but overall I liked it.”
His mother, Marybeth Antone, said she was “beside herself” over the motorcycle rally.
“To have him at home in Orland Park is overwhelming,” she said. “Meeting him at the base (in July) was just awesome, something every American should experience. Watching them (soldiers) march out of that airplane is just breathtaking.”
Brian’s wife, Sarah, 25, also of Orland Park, said she feels like “all her worries and stress are gone” now that he’s home.
“I didn’t know what to expect when he enlisted since we were still dating,” she said. “But I was excited for a new journey in life.”
The couple married in April 2012, a few months before Brian was deployed.
“I moved back home (from Tennessee) and stayed with my parents while he was gone, so I had a great support system,” Sarah said.
Antone returns to Fort Campbell next week, but until then he wants to “go fishing as much as I can.”
A graduate of Mount Carmel High School, Antone enlisted in the Army in November 2011 and was promoted twice during his deployment in Afghanistan, according to the Soldiers Guardian Angels.