SOMERS, N.Y. – As a big, tough Marine, Somers resident Jack Foley had to be prepared for anything. But he wasn’t ready for the rush of emotions he felt during his recent homecoming.
The 2012 Somers High School grad, who was driving home from California, was surprised at the town line by a convoy of firetrucks.
In one of them was his 17-year-old sister, Bridget, a fellow firefighter.
With lights flashing, the trucks escorted the 22-year-old past the Granite Springs Firehouse where a gigantic American flag had been hung and on to his family’s home in Lincolndale, where they were met by his equally overwhelmed mother.
Foley became a volunteer firefighter when he was only 16. Two years later, he joined the Marines and was stationed in Camp Pendleton in California and deployed to both Kuwait and Iraq.
While he was overseas, many community organizations such as United For The Troops and Boy Scout Troop 376 kept in touch with letters and care packages.
According to Second Assistant Fire Chief Jon Mackey, everyone at the department is really close.
“It’s like a big family,” he said.
So when they heard that Foley was coming home for good they sprang into action.
Fellow firefighter Billy Barlow, an Eagle Scout, flew out to California where he met Foley -- ostensibly to share the driving during the four-day trip back to Somers.
“Everyone really stepped up to put together the surprise on such short notice,” Mackey said.
Foley said he was totally surprised when he and Barlow pulled their Jeep onto Quaker Church Road around 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19 and saw the convoy of firetrucks waiting for them.
“I had a feeling that something was up (with Barlow), during the ride home,” Foley said. “But apparently, everyone knew, but me.”
He asked Barlow what was up, but his friend just said: "Don't worry about it."
Then he saw the firefighters lined up, saluting, and the trucks pulled in behind their Jeep "sirens wailing."
(His mom, Patricia, had organized a big gathering at home.)
While he was overjoyed by the reception, Foley said he also really appreciated the “love and support” the community gave his family while he was away.
As for Mackey: "We are happy to have Jack home and have his continue his service with the fire department."