Communities greet Carlson

Lisa Depies
Spc. Aaron Carlson, right, hugs a well-wisher during his welcome home ceremony at the Annawan Community ?Center on March 13.

With his right arm in a sling, a softspoken  Spc. Aaron Carlson, 20, greeted well-wishers at a welcome home ceremony in Annawan on March 13.

The ceremony capped off a homecoming that stretched from Moline to Annawan to welcome home Carlson, who was injured Jan. 17 in Afghanistan.

“We wanted to make this a big surprise for him,” said Carlson’s brother,?Ryan, who along with fellow sibling, Brandon, and  parents, Larry and Jeanne Carlson, planned the homecoming.

Carlson was injured in a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. He was then airlifted to a hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, before being transferred to Walter Reed Army?Medical Center near Washington, D.C.

According to Ryan, his brother has been receiving treatment at Walter Reed since the end of January.

Carlson is home in Annawan for a two-week visit, and will return to Walter Reed for additional rehabilitation.

“He has a mix of internal and external injuries,” explained Ryan. “It’s going to be a long process, but we expect a full recovery, and Aaron’s spirits are very good.”

Carlson, who received a Purple Heart for his actions in Afghanistan, received a hero’s welcome on March 13.

He and his parents were greeted at the Quad City? Airport in Moline by members of the Patriot Guard, who, along with law enforcement and fire officials, escorted Carlson and a caravan of

well-wishers along Route 6 to Annawan.

Supporters holding signs and waving American flags lined sections of Route 6 to help greet Carlson. In Geneseo, employees at Springfield Armory stood outside their building to greet Carlson as he passed.

Millikin Elementary? School students stood in the former Jewel parking lot and waved posters and American flags and cheered as Carlson drove by.

His hometown of Annawan was awash in red, white and blue in anticipation of Carlson’s homecoming.

A crowd of well-wishers and an honor guard, comprised of members of the Kewanee, Neponset, Mineral and Hooppole American Legions and the Annawan VFW, gathered near the Annawan Community Center, the final destination for Carlson’s cortege.

Carlson’s mother, Jeanne, called the welcome home events “amazing, overwhelming and very heartwarming.”

She said her son was happy to be home, and planned to spend his two weeks relaxing with his family.

Carlson is a member of the Galva National Guard.

Holding signs they made to welcome home Spc. Aaron Carlson are Millikin students, from left: Brittny Bergheger, Dwight Medley, Haleigh Jacocks and Lauren ?Denney.