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Surprise welcome-home event for Aurora Marine and new dad

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Updated: December 23, 2012 3:25PM

An Aurora Marine received two extra-special gifts under his Christmas tree when he returned home from tour last week — 3-month-old twin girls who were born during his deployment to Afghanistan.

Last Sunday, proud father Michael Iwanski, 25, said hello to daughters Karsie and Micayla for the first time, and it was a day he’ll never forget.

Skyping with the babies just wasn’t the same as snuggling them.

“It was awesome to hold them. It was the best blessing ever,” he said of the twins, who were born Sept. 19. They join big sister Jayda, 2, adding to the growing Iwanski bunch.

“I always wanted three kids,” he said. “And, now I have them.”

Michael’s welcome home got sweeter this weekend, when Operation Welcome You Home threw the Marine and his wife Alyssa, 22, a party to remember, bringing together family members and friends in celebration of the couple’s long-awaited reunion.

“It’s great to have him back home for Christmas,” said Operation Welcome You Home Founder Donna Morsovillo. Through her organization, Morsovillo provides surprise homecomings to the Fox Valley’s service men and women.

With firetruck and squad car lights blaring, the couple’s motorcade pulled up to Ballydoyle in Aurora on Saturday night, where dozens of well-wishers lined the street with American flags held high. It was a surprise Michael said he had not expected. The applause was loud as he exited his car, stepping into a sea of supporters.

“I was not prepared for this one,” he said as he greeted family members and camera crews outside the restaurant. On stage inside, patriotic music played as the couple smiled widely with their twins, and little Jayda, by their side.

“It’s an amazing feeling to finally have him here,” said Alyssa, a 2008 West Aurora High School graduate. “Not having him here for the pregnancy and the birth was hard.”

Marine family

After high school, Alyssa enlisted in the Marine Corps and served as an administrative clerk at Assault Amphibian School Battalion where she finished her four-year active enlistment in June 2012. But she left with more than just experience. She left with a husband, and a first-born child. Alyssa and Michael, a Phoenix native, married on Dec. 26, 2009, and gave birth to their first daughter, Jayda, on Aug. 3, 2010.

For Michael, fatherhood was a blessing.

That blessing got bigger at the beginning of this year, when Alyssa announced her second pregnancy — this time, with twins. But the sailing wasn’t exactly smooth.

At 4½ months pregnant, Alyssa said goodbye to her husband as he headed out on tour again.

At 34 weeks, and with no husband by her side, the young mother gave birth to the two healthy twin girls, who would have to wait three months to meet their dad.

“I had a lot of family support,” Alyssa said. “It was probably better that he wasn’t here (for the birth), because saying goodbye would have been too hard.”

Since his arrival home, Alyssa said she and Michael have been relaxing and enjoying their family time together. Little Jayda has been attached to her father’s hip, mom said. But that time will be short-lived, Michael leaves again on Jan. 7.

Michael, who has served in the Marines for seven years, plans to enlist again and make a career for himself to support his family. Alyssa is currently a stay-at-home mother, looking after her three little girls.

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