FOLSOM, Calif. — Crowds gathered at Sacramento International Airport Friday night to welcome home a native son of Folsom who was badly injured as U.S. forces left Afghanistan.
Marine Sergeant Tyler Vargas-Andrews walked into the Terminal A lobby on a prosthetic leg to embrace his family and friends.
Sgt. Vargas-Andrews has undergone 43 surgeries at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland after the bombing on August 26th. He lost his entire left leg, his right arm just above the elbow, and suffered several other injuries.
"He has shown resilience and a determination that is second to none," said Danny O'Neel with Warfighter Overwatch, the non-profit organization that helped plan the marine's homecoming.
"We want to just highlight that and make sure he feels the love and support of the community today," O'Neel said.
In honor of his homecoming, Warfighter Overwatch plans on Sunday to honor Vargas-Andrews at the Folsom Pro Rodeo.
On Friday volunteers in Folsom hung yellow ribbons and made signs to help welcome Vargas-Andrews home.
"The work that he’s put into his recovery has just been amazing. We are just so proud," said volunteer Elyse Mackenzie.
A photo taken a few weeks before the attack shows Vargas-Andrews deadlifting more than 500 pounds. In a more recent photo, he is already deadlifting again with the help of special equipment.
O'Neel says Vargas-Andrews' physical fitness helped him overcome his injuries and dozens of surgeries.
"This homecoming means that he can understand the love and support the community has for him, that he is welcome home, and he’s not alone," O'Neel said.
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