‘The day started for me at an old haunt very familiar to Eric… The Cary Matmen Wrestling Club’s practice room. More than any other past or present Matman, Eric’s name comes up as the goal to shoot for when it comes to the amount of effort to put forth. In fact, we as a club, do not give out “awards” per se, but there is one coveted verbal award called the “Kottman Award”. The coaches get together after every season and decide who was the hardest working wrestler in the room. Not the most improved, not the best athlete, but the hardest working..

So with Eric in mind, I set out to meet the family for a one motorcycle escort to the Airport. The Chicago PD did an OUTSTANDING job taking care of the family by providing courtesy parking, and an armed escort past security to the gate to meet Eric as he disembarked. (Thank You #1 to Chicago PD.)

So they get in the car and start the drive home. Chicago PD gave him a squad escort to the DesPlains Oasis, (where Eric was told by his father, Curtis) their jurisdiction ended and would have to leave. Curtis told Eric they might as well stop there and get him a cup of coffee. (Good setup Curtis!!).

As the very well done article (http://cbs2chicago.com/local/warriors.watch.riders.2.859742.html) and video (http://cbs2chicago.com/video/?id=51148@wbbm.dayport.com) done by CBS’s Mike Puccinelli said, “From the line of fire, to a line of flags — that’s what awaited Specialist Eric Kottman when he pulled into the Des Plaines Oasis Saturday on his way home after spending 14 months in Iraq.”

After some hootin’ and hollerin’ of “Thanks!” and “Welcome home’s”, I presented Eric his Honor Coin and shared with him the same words that WWR’s leader Lutz, shared with me.

Then each WWR, in turn thanked and welcomed home our hero and soon it was time to “MOUNT UP!”.

So we departed in fine style with a fine escort of lights-a-flashin’ (Thanks “lights” Matt) all the way down the expressway..

Now, O’Hare to Fox River Grove, IS a little jaunt.. Especially on a cold, wet, and WINDY day. So I was glad to see Palatine PD waiting to take over the lead and provide us the ALWAYS appreciated (and just darn FUN) service of tripping all the lights and/or allowing us to run the red lights all the way there!! (Thanks Palatine PD).

Palatine had lotsa units along the way.. I was so grateful.. I was pretty sure the rain was done by then, but dang, my glasses were fogging up again with some mysterious moisture coming from SOMEWHERE?!?!..

THEN, we entered Barrington.. Counting Fire, Police and Ambulance units, there must’ve been 15 units there to help our procession through their community.. (Barrington Police and Fire, WOW! THANKS!)

Fox River Grove is Eric’s home town.. It did not let him down… Police and Fire units provided the most awesome and noisy escort the remainder of the way! I could not stop grinning as we were stopped by a Metra train and the Ladder Truck kept his siren on and horn BLASTING!!

Lastly, we arrive at our destination a full 30 minutes BEFORE I ever could have imagined arriving!! Thanks to a quick phone call from Eric’s former wrestling coach, Coach Castino, we mustered up several of our Cary Matmen to give him a mini Flag Line Welcome! (The plane was to land at 11AM, How in the HECK did we arrive at the destination by noon!??!) Here is the article from the NorthWest Herald describing this part of the mission: http://www.nwherald.com/articles/2008/11/09/news/local/doc4916b6b3115e0473674915.txt

So, I lost count of how many Thanks! I have doled out.. Each time I write the word, it does not seem a strong enough sentiment.

Eric.. Again… Welcome Home and THANKS!

Eric’s Family… Thank YOU for allowing US The Honor of escorting your hero home!!

Riders, You guys are NUTS!! 36 degrees, a little rain and a LOTA WIND!!! ’tis why I love ya’s!!

Cagers (people who drive cars) are just as loved!!

Cary Matmen who showed up, Thanks… Sorry about the timing, never would’ve imagined making it home from O’Hare in less than an hour!!


Jon D., Lisa, and EVERYONE ELSE that helped and offered to help!!

What can I say!! WOW. I AM BLOWN AWAY ALL!!

Time to quit typing lest I get sweaty eyeballs again!!