Soldier returns to celebrate freedom with family
Marine Corporal Justin Andrew Aysse returned home Friday afternoon ready to celebrate the freedom he and other soldiers have been fighting for in Afghanistan.
After completing two tours of duty, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, Aysse said he has a better appreciation for what Independence Day really represents.
“Before it was about barbecue and fireworks,” he said while holding his mother and sister close to him at the Greyhound bus station downtown, “but now I know what it means.”
It has been nearly two years since Aysse has seen his mother, Julie Dominguez, and sister 13-year-old sister, Ania Quevedo.
He was surprised at how much his sister had grown up while he was gone.
“I just can’t believe I’m going to get time to spend with my brother and celebrate the holiday,” Quevedo said.
Aysse was greeted by nearly 30 members of the Patriot Guard Riders, the Military Families of America and the Blue Star Mothers. Well-wishers waited patiently for the bus which was nearly two hours late.
They waved 13 American flags while Bill Davis rang the Veteran’s Memorial Bell. Traffic driving by honked horns and those walking by joined the excited crowd.
Aysse said he expected a big reception because his mother is the president and founder of the Military Families of America. She attends as many soldiers homecomings as she can.
She and Quevedo have lived in Grand Junction for the past two years and do not have any other family living here. Dominguez said that is why she appreciates the support of groups like the Patriot Riders and the Blue Star Mothers. “These people are my family,” she said through teary eyes.
Dominguez is from Cuba and has a limited number of family living in the United States. She is proud to see her son, a first-generation American, serve in the military.
“This is what liberty is,” she said.
Arm-in-arm, the family said they planned to barbecue with friends on the fourth. Aysse will finish his military service soon and will attend college in the fall.