Afghanistan Fire photo 11.09

By Kent McDill / Staff
Soldiers deployed to foreign locations are urged to pack only essential items and leave non-essential items at home.

So how did Capt. Michael McAlinden of the U.S. Marine Corps end up with a Chicago Fire flag while serving in Afghanistan?

It came to him in a care package from home, and he proudly displayed the flag for a photograph with mates from N Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines, while in the Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. He then sent the photo home to his father, Kevin McAlinden, who then sent it on to John Dorn, Michael’s former soccer coach who now works in player development for the Fire.

But Capt. McAlinden wants you to know he is not surrounded by Chicago Fire fans in the photograph.

“Most of them are Hispanic, from southern California,” McAlinden said Tuesday from California, after returning Stateside last weekend. “They are MLS fans, split between the Galaxy and Chivas USA. But I outrank most of them, so I got them in the photo.”

The McAlinden family are from the Beverly neighborhood in Chicago and are Fire season ticket holders. Michael played soccer at Brother Rice High School for Dorn.

McAlinden graduated from Quincy College in Illinois, then went to USMC Officer Training School in Quantico, Va. This is his second deployment, following a previous deployment to Iraq.

McAlinden said he kept up with the Fire’s progress in Saturday’s playoff win against the New England Revolution through his father, connecting with him using a satellite telephone.

“It’s supposed to be used for emergencies only, but this was an emergency,” McAlinden said.