CLARENDON HILLS — Army Spc. Adam Tomanovich realized just how much he was missed this week.
Tomanovich recently returned from his first nine-month tour in Afghanistan. He was greeted Monday with a hero’s welcome at Walker School in Clarendon Hills.
Students and staff crowded the hallways to welcome Tomanovich by waving miniature American flags to patriotic music as the soldier paraded the hallways in full uniform.
“I really didn’t know it was going to be like that,” the 20-year-old Westmont resident said. “I thought it was going to be a couple kids, so it was really nice. I don’t even know the word for it.”
Tomanovich is the son of Walker School’s resource teacher, Deanne Tomanovich, and said it was this familiarity with the school and students that made it extra special to have the event there.
Deanne Tomanovich said the welcoming parade was planned by staff members in advance, and she was touched by the gesture.
“It just speaks volumes to how loving and wonderful this school is,” Deanne Tomanovich said. “It’s very supportive and very family-orientated.”
While in Afghanistan, Adam Tomanovich’s unit primarily worked with local people to help them adjust while U.S. troops were withdrawing from the region.
As Adam Tomanovich stood outside Walker School on Monday, a group of students slowly edged toward him bearing smiles.
“Thank you for your service!” they shouted together.
He must have felt like the mall Santa as all the kids had the same glee in their eyes – something even he couldn’t describe.
“It’s a different feeling because of seeing all the appreciation the little kids have as they look up to you,” Adam Tomanovich said.
Adam Tomanovich will be home from the Army now until the end of the month before going back to Germany, where he will be stationed. In the meantime, Adam Tomanovich said he’ll spend as much time as he can with friends and family, and continue to enjoy the little things.
“The first thing I wanted was just a home-cooked meal and some sleep,” he said.
Deanne Tomanovich said she was proud of her son but admitted she was at first scared about the idea of him joining the Army.
“We knew there was an opportunity for him to be deployed, but we needed to be supportive because those were the dreams he wanted to follow,” she said. “That’s what he’s doing; he’s following his dreams.”