A member of the McLean High School class of 2007, who joined the U.S. Army, has returned from war, home to McLean.
Nathan Portnoy served in Iraq from August to November of 2011 escorting convoys in the southern part of the country.
Last week he was at Greenberrys to see friends, receive hugs and good wishes and generally begin to feel at home again.
“I decided to pursue a childhood dream," he said. “When I was a kid I always wanted to be a solider," he explained.
"At one of the lower points of my being 20 and I had no idea what I wanted to do . . my sister married a Marine," he said. "And my parents looked at me.”
He had a friend who had joined the National Guard, specifically the 29th Infantry Division, a storied World War II division. The 29th was the only National Guard Division to participate in the invasion of Europe, D-Day, June 6, 1944. The men of the 29th landed in a little piece of hell known as Omaha Beach.
"As a national guardsman you can be a regular person," he explained. "You can take what experiences I had and bring them home."
During the first few months in Iraq he was a gun truck driver. A gun truck is one of the escort vehicles for a supply convoy. Then he worked in supply.
Portnoy never fired a gun. Never saw action. During his last two weeks in country, mortars landed in his camp late one night. First he thought it was ordnance unit setting off IED's.
In a few seconds when he realize they were under attack, he said he grabbed his shoes, his gun and headed for the protective bunker.
"My experience in the army has been quite an adventure," Portnoy said. "It has taught me much. It has helped motivate me for the future."
The next chaper in his life: "In terms of what I am to do now. I'll need to find some work, perhaps a new place to live. I hope to be in school by next fall."
He remains in the National Guard.
Note to neighbors: He needs a job.
If you are a McLean resident home from war, or know of a returning veteran, please let us know so we can share with the neighbors.
Full Disclosure: McLean Patch had the honor of accompanying World War II veterans of the 29th back to Omaha Beach for the 60th and 65th anniversaries of D-Day. Yes, they are our heroes.