To me, people who have, are, or will serve their country in the military are the bravest people on Earth. It is something I would never have the strength to do, and just thinking about the dangers and horrors they face while serving our country honestly boggles my mind. I cannot even imagine how the parent of an active service member manages to make it through each day with so much worry in their heart.

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When I read this nomination letter sent to us by Cynthia Grzybowski about her son Raymond Lee of Machesney Park, this week's Hometown Hero, I could just feel the worry she has felt for several years and the joy she now feels that he is coming home soon.

Raymond finished boot camp and jump school in May of 2019, then in July 2019, he was deployed to Afghanistan with the 82nd ABN. My son was listed as being in 2 explosions, one suicide bomber was coming at him, he floored the maxpro to avoid being hit and it hit the vehicle behind them, 3 seconds and 3 feet saved all their lives. An RPG hit their vehicle another time and he was shot at through his pants just missing his leg, breaking his sunglasses in his pocket. My son will finish his service in 2022, he currently has trouble with his hearing, medics said he has a possible meniscus tear, which he has continued to train on and has problems sleeping. He has seen his friends suffer from injuries, PTSD and a few good men paid the ultimate sacrifice on one of his missions. In May 2021 during a nighttime training jump in Astonia, he jumped and told me he thought he was going to die when his shoot would not inflate, he was between 150-200 ft away from hitting the ground and he felt it was too late to pull his reserve to help when his shoot finally started to inflate which didn't slow him done much, he hit the ground hard, he was glad the farm field was soft and he was able to walk away. Once again luck was on his side. This Momma is proud but also grateful he is coming home soon. I raised my hero, I call him my son!

Raymond, it sounds like you have one heck of an amazing guardian angel watching over you! To honor your service to our country, and your incredible bravery, we would like to give you a $100 Amazon gift card courtesy of our friends at Gustafson's Furniture & Mattress in Rockford. Please use it to buy something that brings you joy and comfort, and maybe a little something special for your Mom too. It sounds like she's lived through a whole lot of scary these last few years.

If you know someone extraordinary like Raymond, please nominate them as a Hometown Hero, here.

Past Hometown Hero Award Winners

Can You Guess The Abandoned Rockford Business?

Can You Guess The Abandoned Rockford Business?