Soldier’s family gets surprise visit
By Erin Sauder For The Courier-News September 29, 2012 8:58PM
US Army PFC Eric Luna, 20, hugs his sister Ivette in her sophomore English class at Dundee Crown High School Friday afternoon. September 28, 2012. Luna who graduated from Dundee Crown in 2010 drove 12 hours from Fort Bragg in North Carolina to surprise his family. He returned to the US earlier this month after serving in Afghanistan. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 1, 2012 6:37AM
CARPENTERSVILLE — From the time he was a child, Eric Luna knew he wanted to eventually pursue a career in the military.
“Just like any other little kid I was thinking, ‘Oh hey, I can get paid to do cool action stuff,” said the 2010 Dundee-Crown High School graduate.
Luna went to Northern Illinois University for a year before at 19 deciding to join the Army. Three months after enlisting, the private first class was deployed to Afghanistan.
He was excited about the venture.
“It’s something I always wanted to do,” he said. “My goal is to do at least two deployments.”
But he admits to having some apprehension.
“I was a little nervous about it, like, ‘Am I ready to go, just starting out of bootcamp?’” he said.
While in Afghanistan, Luna said, he was shot but saved by his body armor. He never told his family about the incident, which he described as it was like getting hit by Mike Tyson.
He was recently granted a two-week leave and decided to only tell his father, Gerardo, the exact day he’d be home. He and a buddy from Ottawa, Ill., drove the 12 hours home from North Carolina, arriving here Friday morning.
Early that afternoon, Luna surprised his sister, Ivette, a current Dundee Crown High School student, by showing up at the school. He also surprised his mother, Lourdes, at her office.
“The receptionist told my mother, ‘Hey, you need to come up here.’ Then I popped out from under the desk,” Luna said.
Answering questions in his sister’s sophomore English class taught by Jamie Rausch, Luna talked about his deployment, telling students about camel spiders that are as big as your hand and chase you around to be in your shadow and how he sometimes had to stay up for 24 hours at a time.
He also sometimes he did not have a bath for 30 days, despite sweating “like playing football every day.”
Luna lost friends in the war, but no one from his company.
While he fondly recalled the smiling faces of Afghan kids, he “had enough of sand.”
For the next two weeks, Luna plans to spend time with his family and friends before heading back to Fort Bragg in North Carolina where he is now stationed.
He also plans to indulge in the food he has greatly missed since being away from the area, including Portillo’s. “When you’re sitting somewhere and not able to eat all the delicious, greasy food you’re not supposed to be eating, it’s hard,” he said. “That’s exactly what I’ve been waiting for.”