It was a 26-motorcycle salute for Army Specialist Robert D. Maggio. More than two dozen bikers from the Patriot Guard Riders provided an honor guard escort for Maggio and his parents as they attended a Welcome Home Celebration at the Danville Town Meeting Hall.
Over 100 area residents turned out for the Tuesday evening event, held to recognize Maggio's Army service. The 21-year-old Danville man served 15 months in Afghanistan. Stationed at Camp Eggers in Kabul, Maggio was a communications specialist. During his tour he rode in more than 300 military convoys as either a driver or a gunner.
He received the Army Commendation for his actions during an attack on the camp when a suicide bomber exploded an IED (Improvised Explosive Device) near the camp's technical control facility. Maggio helped evacuate the area and then guarded the communications center and maintained communications links.
During the celebration Tuesday, Maggio received further commendations from the Town Council, Patriot Guard, Blue Star Moms, Operation SAM, the VFW and other area veterans organizations.
Members of the Lafayette Flag Brigade awarded the young soldier one of the many flags they have flown.
Local singer Diana Nagy entertained the dozens of residents in attendance with the song "When Freedom Flies."
Danville Mayor Newell Arnerich read a proclamation honoring Maggio, listing his accomplishments in Afghanistan and the ribbons he had been awarded.
Arnerich took special pride in the presentation, as he has had long familiarity with Maggio.
"I've know Rob since he was 9 years old," he said. "You went away as a young man and you came back as a mature man that your community is proud of."
John Reese, Director of Information for the Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley, led a group of veterans to the podium to offer their thanks and congratulations to Maggio and his parents, Chuck and Barbara.
"We're very fortunate that this community really knows how to welcome home heroes," he said.
Maggio briefly addressed the crowd, thanking them for coming out and offering their good wishes. He talked of hearing about his father's experiences as a soldier returning home from Vietnam and said how pleased he is that times have changed and his country is proud of their soldiers.
"Every time I hear people say thank you for your service, I just think, 'Thank you, for supporting us,'" he stated.
After the ceremonies ended, the Patriot Guard Riders fired up their bikes and rolled out, en route to a celebratory party to be held at Elliott's Bar.