Iraq veteran returns home to rousing welcome in Vernon Hills

October 23, 2008


At 12:30 a.m. Monday, Elena Ostrovskiy peered from her window in Vernon Hills and saw the flashing lights of emergency vehicles as they created a colorful procession on Route 60. Instead of causing alarm, the sight sparked elation. Her only child was almost home.

"It was just...I don't have words to describe it," she said. "When I saw all these lights, I knew they were coming."

Marine Lance Cpl. Dmitriy Ostrovskiy returned from Iraq early Monday, and there was no question of sneaking in quietly. The Vernon Hills Police Department coordinated a team to meet him at Routes 60 and 21 to escort him home. Ostrovskiy also received an escort to the Village Board meeting Tuesday from Vernon Hills Police, Countryside Fire Protection District and the Lincolnshire-Riverwoods Fire Protection District.

"It was great," Ostrovskiy said. "It was probably better than the welcome we got when our battalion landed at March (Air Reserve Base). There was a whole fleet of police cars and fire trucks."

The villages of Vernon Hills and Libertyville honor returning military men and women as part an initiative called "Welcome Home." Ostrovskiy, 20, was dressed in the Marines dress uniform as he entered Village Hall under the colors provide by American Legion Post 1247 of Prairie View.

Mayor Roger Byrne read a proclamation. State Sen. Terry Link and State Rep. Kathy Ryg presented certificates. Ostrovskiy also received shopping and dining gift cards.

"We really do appreciate your service," Ryg said. "Best wishes going forward."

Ostrovskiy returned home for a special occasion -- his wedding Saturday to his high school sweetheart, Amy Aschermann. Several in the crowd said "Aw" and smiled as the tall Marine put his arm around Aschermann as she stepped up to the podium to join him.
'All the happiness'

"Congratulations on being a Marine, serving the country and getting married," Byrne said. "I wish you both all the happiness in the world."

The couples plan a honeymoon to Hawaii and then will return to California where Ostrovskiy is stationed a Camp Pendleton. He will deploy again in September, if not to Iraq, then somewhere else. He is contemplating a career in the military.

"I want to thank his mother for raising a wonderful son who has been taking care of us in Iraq," said Police Officer Bob Lonergan, who coordinated Ostrovskiy's welcome.

Elena Ostrovskiy, who attended the recognition at the Board meeting, said it came as a surprise when her son told he wanted to enlist in the Marines after he graduated from Vernon Hills High School in 2006.

"I cannot even describe how difficult it is to wait for his calls," she said. "Every night, I would spend on the computer to see what's going on when they say something bad happens. But my son is a wonderful son. He cares, and he knows that I'm waiting. He would always send me emails to say 'Mom, I'm OK.' I understand that being in Iraq is a routine thing for them, but not for us."

Ostrovskiy said he missed ordinary activities, like driving.

Asked what she thought her son missed, other than family, Elena Ostrovskiy said, "Taco Bell, how about that?"