Hometown Hero Returns to Polo on 9/11 - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Hometown Hero Returns to Polo on 9/11

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Flags lined the streets of Polo Wednesday marking a big celebration for this small town.

Fire trucks turn the corner. Their sirens sound. The moment Greg and Linda Smith waited nine months for finally arrives.

"It's relief. We can breath deeply for the first time in nearly a year," Greg Smith, parent of Mark Smith, said.

Relief that their son, specialist Mark Smith, returned home safely from fighting in Afghanistan.

"This is the first I've seen him in over a year. He looks good," Smith said.

Mark believes the reason he made it back in high spirits is because of the hometown support he felt while in a war zone.

"It's really nice. It's nice to have a hometown that has so much support. Everybody's so tight knit. It's a real nice community. There's nothing better in the world," Specialist Mark Smith said.

Mark is the third Smith son to enlist in the military. His oldest brother did a tour in Afghanistan. He has another brother who also served in Iraq.

"I'm fairly convinced that my sons went into the military because of 9/11. It affected them greatly," Greg Smith said.

"I was young. I think I was in fourth or fifth grade. But yes, after that I wanted to join the military," Smith said.

That started mark on his two year experience, serving his country and leading him to this proud moment for both him and his parents.

"It was a goal that I wanted to do and I completed it and I'm really happy," Smith said.

Mark's mom and dad say it's great to have him back. They seem to have really missed the little things. This homecoming has them "all smiles."

"He's got an unbelievable laugh. It's good to hear it again. Good to see him again," Greg Smith said.

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