MADISON VILLAGE -- Madison Village is a small community of just over 3,100 people in Lake County.
Being a small community, strangers are like friends, and friends are like family.
"It's a caring community," said Mike Evangelista, with the American Legion Post 112.
The caring of this village was evident Friday night, when more than 50 people braved the icy wind to line the street into town as a hero returned home from a deployment to Afghanistan.
First Sergeant Mark Woodworth grew up in Madison Village, and when he retires from the U.S. Army Cavalry next year, after 20 years of service, he plans to make his home back here.
"I cannot be happier. This is probably the longest nine months I've ever gone through," said Erica Alvord, Sgt. Woodworth's fiancee.
With flags, balloons and home-made posters, the patriotic welcome was a total surprise to Sgt. Woodworth.
"I'd just like to really thank all of Madison and the community for all of their support, and not just today," Sgt. Woodworth said.
Sgt. Woodworth has served in the army through seven tours of duty.
"There are people here I've known my entire life. Just for the community to come out and support both our family and our armed services is incredible. A true honor," said Sgt. Woodworth.
Sgt. Woodworth deployed to Haiti in 1995, Bosnia in 1997, Kuwait in 2000, Iraq in 2003, 2005 and 2009, and Afghanistan in 2012.
"Friends and veterans, we're all glad to see Mark back," said Evangelista.