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Wounded warrior receives hero's welcomeTell North Platte what you think
Photo by Jay Huff
Reaching home territory
Photo by Jay Huff
Flag-lined pathway for Josh Stansbery, leading to his family and friends.
Photo by Jay Huff
Joyous mom, Teri, beams at Josh
Photo by Jay Huff
Hug for big sister Allie

A crowd of nearly 75 people gave wounded U. S. Army Afghanistan veteran Josh Stansbery a hero’s welcome Saturday as he got off a 1:30 p.m. flight at Lee Bird Field.

There were groups from the American Legion, American Veterans Motorcycle Club Affiliates and of course family and friends from North Platte and Hershey.

Stansbery was in good spirits and walking well with the aid of a handmade diamond willow cane, one of many supporting gifts from members of the community.

Stansbery was injured last August, Stansbery was on foot patrol in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb exploded nearby.

He suffered severe wounds to the lower half of his body plus shrapnel wounds to his arms, chest and face. His eardrum was perforated and he suffered abrasions to on of his cornea.

He was flown to the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, where he underwent surgery and months of rehabilitation.

Josh’s family was excited to finally have him home. Parents Gene and Teri Stansbery were on hand with brother Dusty and sisters Allie and Haley. Little sister Haley, 10, was excited to see her big brother come home. As the plane taxied to a stop on the tarmac, she pressed as close to the glass doors as she could, her eyes wide.

When Stansbery reached the airport lobby, he was stunned to see how many people showed up to greet him. Veterans groups created a pathway of flags for him to walk through as he entered.

“I knew there would be some people but not this many,” he said. “I’m just starting to get to know how much support I’ve had through this.”

“Now that I’m back I look forward to relaxing, healing up and being with family. I’ve really missed my family. I need to relax some and then I want to talk to and get to know the many people that have supported me,” he said.

“I’m kind of tired. I didn’t sleep much last night due to excitement and I’ve been travelling since 6 a.m. today,” he said.

Narrow miss

“Pieces of the shrapnel went through his calf muscle but didn’t hit the bone,” Teri Stansbery said.

Stansbery sustained “compartment syndrome” in his lower right leg -- when the muscles swell so much that cuts have to be made to relieve the pressure.

Surgeons considered amputating the leg, but the wounds just barely missed the bone so they instead concentrating on saving his leg, Teri said.

At Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, four surgeries were performed to remove dead tissue and stitch up the inside of his leg. Skin was grafted from his right thigh onto his calf. Thankfully, the graft was successful the first time and didn’t have to be repeated.

Stansbery has undergone grueling rehabilitation for his leg and is still healing. But, by all reports he’s healed faster than expected and the future looks good for him.

The Bulletin's Jay Huff crafted the walking cane of Nebraska diamond willow and sent it to Josh Stansbery in Texas. -Editor

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 11/18/2012
Copyright © 2012 northplattebulletin.com - All rights reserved.
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