CHICAGO – September 2, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today joined families and community residents in welcoming home 25 members of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 318th Public Affairs Operation Center (PAOC) based in Forest Park. The unit is returning from a year-long deployment in Bagdad, Iraq.
“I am honored to be part of this special day to celebrate the safe homecoming of our brave servicemembers who put their lives on hold to protect and honor our country and our democracy,” said Governor Quinn. “We are all grateful for their courage and selflessness, and we honor their families who have made sacrifices many of us will never know. I am thankful for the opportunity to share in this day.”
The 318th PAOC was called to duty Aug. 24, 2009 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Based in Bagdad, Iraq, the PAOC served as the Press Camp Headquarters overseeing public affairs information centers and handling media relations.
Last August, 30 soldiers were deployed with the unit from Forest Park, and 25 returned today. Of the 30 soldiers, five suffered non-combat related injuries and returned home separately throughout the past year.
The 318th PAOC returned home from Bagdad this morning to jubilant family and friends who gathered at O’Hare Airport to greet them. The welcome home celebration was held at the Park District of Forest Park immediately following their arrival.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama formally declared an end to the nation’s combat role in Iraq. The president announced that the last U.S. troops will leave Iraq by the end of 2011. The State of Illinois administers various programs and benefits for Veterans returning from duty. For more information, please visit www.veterans.illinois.gov.