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Returning Naval officer gets hero's welcome
By Jack Komperda | Daily Herald Staff

Anthony "Ozzie" Giglio shakes the hand of Andrew Regal of Addison on Friday as he steps into Wildfire Motorcycles in Villa Park.

 

Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

Anthony "Ozzie" Giglio is welcomed home by his mother Maryann Giglio and friends Friday at Wildfire Motorcycles in Villa Park.

 

Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

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Published: 12/28/2008 12:04 AM

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Anthony "Ozzie" Giglio's fourth tour of duty to Iraq and Afghanistan was only meant to last about six months.

But months quickly turned to well over a year for the Naval commander and motorcycle dealership owner from Wheaton.

On Friday, about 200 family friends, customers and other well-wishers met Giglio at his Villa Park Harley Davidson dealership to welcome him back home.

Giglio, 48, was part of a U.S. Naval Intelligence and counterterrorism team.

Friends and family said he spent the last 15 months in Iraq and Afghanistan training military personnel, but they weren't told details about his location and mission.

A police escort and area motorcycle enthusiasts, including the Patriot Guard Riders and Warrior Watch Riders, took Giglio to his office, where dozens of people stood waiting outside hoisting American flags.

Jo Giovannoni, an events coordinator for one of Giglio's stores, said that friends and past customers recorded greetings for Giglio's return that were replayed on Friday.

"There were some tears shed," Giovannoni said. "The whole event stirred up a lot of emotions for people who were either over there or lost family members in war."

Giglio's send off in August 2007 was met with similar fanfare.

The streets near his Wheaton home were lined with American flags, yellow ribbons and hundreds of residents and friends who gathered to wave goodbye.

Mike Burke, one of Giglio's neighbors, helped organize both his original send off and Friday's return celebration.

"It was incredible," Burke said. "We almost had him crying like a baby, but he fought it and fought it."

Jill Giglio, Anthony's wife, said her husband was heartened by Friday's welcome.

"He's still in shock," she said. "It's heartwarming to see so many bike groups that were a part of this."