Crete man returns home from Middle East tour of duty

2014-06-14T17:45:00Z 2014-06-15T01:20:09Z Crete man returns home from Middle East tour of dutyGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent
June 14, 2014 5:45 pm  • 

CRETE | James McCaig, a sergeant in the Army who has done three tours of duty in the Middle East —  Kuwait, Iraq and most recently Afghanistan — returned to his hometown of Crete on Saturday, with nearly 100 family members on hand to greet him.

Municipal officials gave him a parade along Exchange Street from Crete-Monee High School, from which McCaig graduated in 2002, to the Crete United Methodist Church which his family attends.

Village President Michael Einhorn proclaimed Saturday to be “James McCaig Day” in Crete, while saying that he is truly a credit to the south suburban village.

“I’ve never known anybody who did three tours of military duty,” he said, adding that officials are considering adding to municipal signs the village is the “Home of James McCaig.”

McCaig was 5 when he and two sisters were in Florida and became foster children. They wound up being sent together to Rick and Barb Powell, whose family had been in Crete for two generations.

“We truly are the sons of Crete,” Rick Powell said, adding how James came to be just like a son to the family.

Following the mid-day service outside the church, family and friends gathered at the Main Street Exchange Bar & Grill for pizza, beer and live music.

As for McCaig, he said of Crete, “I have loved this town ever since I was a little boy.”

McCaig attended Crete Elementary and Middle schools and was a member of local Boy Scout Troop 132, several of whose members were on hand for Saturday’s tribute.

McCaig was a senior in high school on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorist acts at the World Trade Center in New York and at the Pentagon near Washington, D.C., motivated him to serve the United States.

McCaig enlisted in the Army upon graduation the following spring and has served in various parts of the world, including his three Middle Eastern tours of duty. He has worked his way up through the ranks to sergeant, a promotion he received a year ago.

McCaig said he’d like to work in law enforcement when he completes his military service. Although that won’t be for at least another three years.

Earlier this year, he re-enlisted for another three-year stint, a fact that has his mother less-than-pleased.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of his service to his country,” Barb Powell said. “It’s just that I’d like to have my son back home.”

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