As we honor our fallen soldiers, we are also celebrating the return of another.
After numerous surgeries and months of physical therapy, soldier Jason Bates walked out of the terminal at Lubbock Preston Smith International Monday evening.
The walking is a miracle in itself. Doctors had to amputate Bates' foot and part of his leg after an improvised explosive device destroyed his Humvee in Iraq.
Bates' homecoming wasn't a simple plane ride either. His flight was delayed three times, scheduled to arrive at 4:35 p.m., it landed just after 7 p.m., but the anticipation made his return even greater.
"It's been a long day. I had a lot of flight problems, so I'm just glad to be back," Bates said.
Walking through the terminal and into the arms of his mother, it was a hug made even greater with time.
"I didn't plan on crying, but it brought a lot of emotion to me," Bates said.
Bates spent nearly four months in San Antonio working towards the moment he could come home to family and friends.
"I'm really surprised to see this many people come out," Bates said.
His time at Brooke Army Medical Center was, for at least a few minutes, preoccupied with gifts from local daycare students, who sat singing before Bates arrived at the airport, but couldn't stand still when he walked through the door.
"They all just wanted a hug, one of them almost knocked me down, but it's alright," Bates said.
Now, Bates' time will be spent with family, at a place he hasn't seen much of lately, home.
"Thank you to all of you who've been praying for me. I appreciate it. It's probably kept me out of a lot of stuff, so I just want to thank all of ya'll," Bates said.
Bates tells us he will have to go back to San Antonio for more physical therapy. He says he could have to spend another four to six months learning to walk on his new prosthetic leg, but his spirits are good, and his family couldn't be happier to have him home.
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