A Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier who lost both legs to a mine in Afghanistan five months ago made his first trip to his Alabama hometown last week and received a hero’s welcome.
Hundreds of people greeted Spc. Josh Wetzel in Glencoe, Ala. on Friday. Many have been following his progress at his Prayers for Josh Wetzel Facebook page and in local media reports around Alabama.
“This is probably one of the best days of my life,” Wetzel told them outside the Veteran’s Memorial at Glencoe City Hall. “When I went to Afghanistan I didn’t want to come home a hero because heroes come home with no legs. But the day I stepped on that IED meant someone I was deployed with got to live a little longer.”
Wetzel is a member of Lewis-McChord’s 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. It’s been fighting in one of the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan this summer, searching for mines in the Taliban homeland of Kandahar Province’s Panjwai District.
Wetzel now has nearly 18,000 fans following him on Facebook. He also has met President Obama.
The Gadsden Times reported that Wetzel’s hometown has motivated him through his recovery.
“You guys are my courage. You guys are my strength,” he said. “God brought me through this. There was a point I didn’t have any of my blood in me. All of the (fellow soldiers) got in line and gave their blood so I could live.”