ASHLAND, Ohio - Hundreds of people, family, friends and strangers, lined Main Street in downtown Ashland to welcome home their wounded hero.
The road to recovery has been long and tough for Army Corporal Josh Sommers, a 24-year-old member of the 101st Airborne Division, also known as the Screaming Eagles. But on Friday, just in time for the holiday weekend, he was able to finally come back home.
In June 2010, while serving on foot patrol in Afghanistan, a rocket-propelled grenade exploded behind Sommers, striking him in the head. Sommers was rushed to a hospital for surgery on his brain and then spent the next several months in rehab.
The injuries left Sommers paralyzed on his left side, blind and with only 40 percent hearing.
But all that matters to Lisa Sommers is that her son is alive. "Having Josh home means the world to our family and the fact that he'll have a new home equipped to handle his needs is amazing."
The Army Corporal is the first recipient of an Operation Open Doors renovation. The efforts included modifying the new home to enable it to accommodate Josh, installing ramps, rails and widening doorways and remodeling bathrooms.
"It means the world to me, really," Josh said. "I can't express to anybody enough how much I truly appreciate everything everyone has done for me."
Sommers was escorted by a parade of motorcycles south to Ashland where he was greeted by Ashland City Council President Stephen Stuart. "I think it's most fitting that his coming home after over a year in the hospital coincides with the Independence Day weekend," Stuart said.
"This means a lot. We've been waiting for this day for a long time. This is unbelievable," said Lisa.
An added thanks for fighting for our freedom: VFW Post 1067 gave Sommers a lifetime free membership.