FOLSOM, Calif. — Warfighter Overwatch is planning to honor U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Tyler Vargas-Andrews at the Folsom Pro Rodeo Sunday.
Vargas-Andrews, a Folsom native, was injured in a deadly suicide bombing at the Kabul Airport while serving in Afghanistan last year. He lost his entire left leg, his right arm just above the elbow, and suffered several other injuries.
Vargas-Andrews needed 43 surgeries at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland after the bombing.
He's returning to his hometown Friday for the first time since the suicide bombing attack.
In honor of his homecoming, Warfighter Overwatch, a nonprofit supporting veterans, first responders and their families, plans to honor Vargas-Andrews at the Folsom Pro Rodeo.
"Every day we get up and we honor those who serve our country and our local community," said Danny O'Neel, the chairman of the board for Warfighter Overwatch. "We want to honor those folks whether they've lost their lives in the line of duty, lost their lives while serving our country, or just get up and put on a uniform."
In addition to honoring Tyler Vargas-Andrews at the Folsom Pro Rodeo's Military Appreciation Night, Warfighter Overwatch will be honoring the 13 service members who lost their lives that day, the family members of those killed, those who helped save Vargas-Andrews’ life, those who survived the bombing in Kabul, and fallen U.S. Marine Capt. John Sax from Placer County.
"It is important to the city of Folsom and Warfighter Overwatch that we recognize the sacrifices of our service members," said Faun O'Neel, the executive director for Warfighter Overwatch. “We thought that this was a perfect opportunity to show our appreciation for everybody that wears the uniform and is willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for our country."
Warfighter Overwatch said although his journey towards recovery will be lifelong, Vargas-Andrews is determined to take his first steps out in public and in his hometown at the rodeo.
"The fact that he's even walking right now is pretty amazing," said Danny O'Neel. "We cannot wait to watch him take his first steps out in public and show the community just how strong he is not just mentally, but physically as well."
The support for Vargas-Andrews extends beyond the rodeo.
"We just want to make sure Tyler knows that today, tomorrow, and for many years to come he has the support of the community," said Faun O'Neel. "We hope the community shows up and shows support for our hometown hero."
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