by Martha Quetsch
ELBURNâ€”Elburn resident Joe Kasper, a specialist with 333rd Military Police Unit of the Illinois Army National Guard, returned Wednesday from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Kasper’s parents, Kim and Tim, welcomed him back in Freeport, Ill., during a ceremony at the Illinois Masonic Temple, during which Go. Pat Quinn was scheduled to speak. The Kaspers were thrilled at the return of their son and his unit, which was engaged in combat while in Afghanistan.
â€œIt’s been a long year of praying and worrying, and we’re glad that they made it home without casualties,â€ Kim said.
Approximately 170 men and women making up the 333rd unit combat brigade team that included Kasper departed from the Illinois Masonic Temple in Freeport, Ill., Aug. 30, 2008, for Fort Bragg, N.C. From there, they headed to the war in Afghanistan, where they took part in Operation Enduring Freedom for nearly a year.
The deployment nearly a year ago that included Kasper’s unit was part of one of the largest military deployments in Illinois since World War II, with approximately 2,700 soldiers taking part.
A 2004 Kaneland High School graduate resident, Joe Kasper enlisted in the Illinois National Guard in December 2002. He did his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.
The Kaspers communicated with their son by e-mail and on Facebook while he was in Afghanistan. The family is planning an open house in September to celebrate his return.
Joe Kasper will enroll at Northern Illinois University in January, Kim said.
Photo: Soldiers from the 333rd Military Police Unit of the Illinois Army National Guard, including Joe Kasper of Elburn, were awarded the Combat Action Badge for their actions during combat operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit returned to the U.S. Wednesday after nearly a year in Afghanistan.