U.S. Army sergeant returns from Iraq, receives day in his honor

U.S. Army Sgt. Aron Wagner deployed in Iraq. Last weekend, Mayor Steve Hagerty declared Oct. 29 as Sgt. Aron Wagner Day.

Source: Jeff Wagner

U.S. Army Sgt. Aron Wagner deployed in Iraq. Last weekend, Mayor Steve Hagerty declared Oct. 29 as Sgt. Aron Wagner Day.

Catherine Henderson, Reporter

When U.S. Army Sgt. Aron Wagner returned home to Evanston on Oct. 29 after serving nine months in Iraq, he was certainly not expecting an escort and a new holiday in his name, his mother Susan Wagner said.

But when he landed at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, the sergeant was escorted to the American Legion in Evanston where Mayor Steve Hagerty declared Oct. 29 as “Sgt. Aron Harry Wagner Day.” The city’s proclamation designated the day “in honor of his years of service to the community and the nation.”

Hagerty told The Daily that about 80 to 100 friends, family and neighbors came out for Wagner’s homecoming. He said two veterans groups — A Hero’s Welcome and Warriors’ Watch Riders — approached the mayor’s office and asked Hagerty to name a day after Aron Wagner.

“In terms of proclamations, I definitely look for people who have made notable contributions to Evanston,” Hagerty said. “It’s important for us to recognize the folks who are in our military, serving and protecting us and our freedom.”

Aron Wagner’s father, Jeff Wagner, said the two veterans groups organized the event. He added that his son was surprised and humbled by the festivities.

“(Aron) has been teasing his friends a little that now they have to celebrate (Aron Wagner Day) every year,” Jeff Wagner said. “He only comes home from his first deployment once, so we wanted to recognize him.”

The sergeant himself declined to comment, deferring to his family, Jeff Wagner said. He said his son did not serve for the attention, but rather for the love of his country.

“Aron will be the first to tell you that he is one of a much larger team and nobody does things on their own,” Jeff Wagner said. “He would deflect the acclaim onto others if he could.”

As a boy, Aron Wagner developed athletic abilities, social aptitude and leadership skills, his parents said. He also developed an interest in serving in the military. His uncle, Alan Wagner, said Aron Wagner is dedicated, passionate and quiet.

“He is putting the needs of others before his own needs and setting a tremendous example for everyone around him in terms of his selflessness,” Alan Wagner said. “He’s become a role model of mine.”

Aron Wagner enlisted in the military in 2014 for a five-year term. His mother said he was interested in being a part of the military’s group environment and channeled his team-building skills to serve his country.

Susan Wagner said she saw her son grow up while in the military. In addition to serving, he has become more compassionate and grounded, she said. His uncle said he sees a level of maturity that accelerated while Aron Wagner served in Iraq.

His family members said they are delighted and relieved to have Aron Wagner back home, albeit only for a short time. The sergeant will be redeployed in a couple months, so his parents said they are making the most of their time with him.

“It’s been such a pleasure to see him grow into this evolved adult,” Susan Wagner said. “I’m just thrilled that he’s doing so well.”

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