Sailors get send-off at Joliet legion post
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain firstname.lastname@example.org February 9, 2013 5:32PM
Updated: March 11, 2013 6:57AM
JOLIET — Brothers Thomas and Domenic Procarione thought they were going to grab a few drinks with friends and family Saturday afternoon before reporting to Navy boot camp on Tuesday.
Instead, the Procariones were surprised with a roaring-good send-off, complete with a flag line, inspirational gifts and a room full of well-wishers at Harwood American Legion Post 5, 705 S. Larkin Ave.
The event was organized by the motorcycle groups Warriors’ Watch Riders and Soldiers Guardian Angels as well as Willco Abate, a motorcycle lobbying group.
“They’re awesome kids,” said Barb Fitzpatrick, a member of Warriors’ Watch Riders. “They’re definitely doing this from their hearts.”
The Procariones’ mom, Brenda, has been participating in send-offs for years as a member of Willco Abate, but this is the first time she’s saying goodbye to her own children.
“It makes us all feel good to be able to support the military,” she said. “I’ve seen so many young men break down and cry when we show up.”
Her boys didn’t cry, but they had huge smiles on their faces as they walked past 11 American flags and were greeted with handshakes and hugs.
“It’s awesome,” said Thomas, 25, who has signed up for a four-year tour. “I wasn’t expecting all of these people to be here.”
Domenic, 23, will be in the Navy for six years and he plans to go through advanced computer networking training.
“It’s pretty exciting,” he said of the surprise party. “I wasn’t expecting it to be so big. It’s kind of great.”
Fitzpatrick said the groups have been organizing send-offs and welcome home events for as long as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were being waged.
“We’ll be there until the last one is done, until they all come home and the war is over,” she said.
The Procariones, both Minooka High School graduates, were given challenge coins to remind them that “somebody has their backs at home.” Harwood Post Cmdr. John Batchelor and Jr. Vice Cmdr. Stanley Martin gave the new recruits paperwork to become American Legion members.
The brothers also received strands of multicolored beads: blue for active military, black for POW-MIAs, red, white and blue for the U.S.A. and gold for soldiers who made the “ultimate sacrifice.”
Of all the people at Saturday’s event, perhaps no one was more emotional than Larry Tobleck, a member of Soldiers Guardian Angels. As he presented the Procarione brothers with certificates of appreciation, he couldn’t help but choke back tears.
“I’m a vet and this is a tough one,” he told them. “I know what you’re going to go through and I wish you the best of luck.”
Tobleck is an Army veteran who served in Vietnam in 1966-67.
“I didn’t have this when I went or when I came back,” he said as he looked around the crowded room of well-wishers. “It’s the least I can do for these guys.”
For more information, visit
warriorswatch.org, willcoabate.org or solidersguardianangels.net.