WINNETKA, Ill. (CBS) — It was a Fourth of July one Navy reservist says he’ll never forget. 

Big crowds turned out Monday to say thanks to Cmdr Dan Adams, who served eight months in Iraq. 

A police escort and firefighters helped welcome him home in Winnetka, where Adams joined his family, CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports.

“It was amazing, incredibly gratifying,” he said of the turnout.

Adams is a Navy pilot who operated unmanned aircraft that sought out improvised explosive devices.

“We were flying little robot planes around southern Iraq,” he explained. “They had a little runway and everything.”

Adams says he’s one of several thousand members of the Navy who have been supporting Army efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

He says he’s glad to be able to celebrate Independence Day in the states, but that his thoughts are still with the men and women overseas. He’s also thinking about those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

“We need to think of all the guys that are over there, fighting for us in Afghanistan and Iraq, especially Iraq,” he said. “Afghanistan’s in the headlines. Iraq is not. And there are guys fighting and dying in Iraq as well.”

Remembering those who can’t be home is one reason Adams’ wife, Teresa, helped plan his welcome.

“A lot of guys are forgotten. We want them not to be forgotten,” she said.

Adams and his wife met while they were studying at Northwestern University.

They’re based out of Walla Walla, Wash. The family will spend some quality time enjoying Chicago and their relatives here for about a week.

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