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Oswego Soldier Welcomed Home with Yellow Ribbons

Oct 28, 2014 07:30PM ● Published by Steven Jack

Neighbors in the Gates Creek subdivision helped the family of National Guard Master Sgt. Brett Bartkoske tie 120 ribbons around trees on Arbor Lane to welcome home the solider from a 10-month deployment to Kuwait. (Submitted photos)

If you’ve driven down the leafy street of Arbor Lane in Oswego's Gates Creek subdivision lately, you’ve likely spotted over 100 yellow ribbons neatly tied around just about every tree along the way.

The ribbons were part of a welcome-home surprise for Brett Bartkoske, a master sergeant in the Illinois National Guard, who returned home Saturday from a 10-month deployment to Kuwait. The ribbons were the handiwork of Bartkoske’s wife, Lily; daughter, Lexi, and a band of friends and Gates Creek neighbors. 

“We were driving down Route 34 and turned on our street, and all of sudden it got pretty quiet in the car when Brett noticed that these ribbons were for him,” said Lily Bartkoske. “It was heartwarming for him to know that all of these people had gotten together to do that for him.”

Brett Bartkoske has served in the National Guard for 26 years, which usually requires a commitment of one weekend a month and two weeks every summer. This is Brett’s second long-term deployment. He was stationed in Iraq in 2006 for 16 months. 

“Having him gone is not easy, and I wouldn’t say it’s something we’re used to,” Lily said. “It’s just something we know we have to do.”

While not on deployment, Brett serves his country another way as a civilian employee of the Department of Defense in Joliet. Lily said his continued service is Brett’s way of giving back.

“We love our country, and take great pride in Brett's service,” she said. “It’s who we are.”

While there was no grand welcome-home celebration waiting for Brett on Saturday, Lily said she’s planning a party for the near future.

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