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Marine gets welcome-home in Aurora after Afghan deployment

U.S. Marine Sgt. Matthew Grabow is welcomed home for Thanksgiving Day holiday with his baby boy Ethan 8 months whom

U.S. Marine Sgt. Matthew Grabow is welcomed home for the Thanksgiving Day holiday with his baby boy Ethan, 8 months, whom he saw only at the birth, and his wife Meghan. 11/24/12 | Linda Girardi~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 27, 2012 6:11AM

U.S. Marine Sgt. Matthew Grabow returned to his hometown for the Thanksgiving Day holiday with his new baby boy, whom he saw only at birth before having to return to Afghanistan.

The Marine said fatherhood is a new experience and “definitely something to transition into.”

“He is crawling and starting to talk — it has been pretty amazing,” he said.

Grabow, 26, received a hero’s welcome Saturday from “Operation Welcome You Home,” a troop-support organization known for staging motorcade escorts for active-duty military personnel on leave.

The West Aurora High School alum said his second deployment in the Middle East was especially difficult having to leave his wife, Meghan, to care for their newborn son, Ethan, now 8 months old.

Grabow left for Afghanistan Dec. 23, 2011. His wife, Meghan, gave birth to their child in March; and other than a brief stay for the birth, the soldier was away serving his country.

“It wasn’t enough time,” Grabow said of his leave to be at the birth of his child in North Carolina, where he is based. “He’s already grown so.”

Grabow said his wife hails from North Carolina, and they arrived in Aurora last Wednesday. His first deployment in 2007 was for 13 months in Iraq, when he missed both the Christmas and Thanksgiving Day holidays. He stepped foot back on U.S. soil in mid-September after nine months in Afghanistan.

The Marine sergeant operated satellite communications and radio operations support for U.S. ground battalions and units during his deployments. He got to see the early months of his son’s life through the use of the online video link Skype.

Grabow said it was his first time back to his hometown in some time. His mother, Linda Treadway, who arranged for the surprise welcome in front of her home on the West Side, said she couldn’t put into words what she was feeling. Treadway said she last saw her son when the baby was born.

Grabow and his family were given a police escort to Luigi’s Pizza, where he thanked family, friends and the military supporters. “All military personnel, my wife and all military families appreciate the support,” he told the group.

Grabow said that with the U.S. downsizing the military, his service will end in June.

“It’s definitely a blessing to be home,” he said.

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