Wounded soldier gets warm welcome home

November 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
There was an emotional homecoming in San Jose Monday night where a Bay Area soldier seriously injured in Iraq, finally made it back home.

U.S. Army Specialist Johnny Nguyen knew people would be greeting him at the San Jose airport Monday night, but he started to tear up when he saw how many people showed up just to shake his hand and thank him. Not only his family and friends were there, but 60 Patriot Guard Riders showed up to welcome the injured soldier.

"It helps a lot knowing I have people behind me. I'm a big baby crying. It helps a lot, means a lot to me," said Johnny.

Johnny started his second tour in Iraq in January. He had fulfilled his term in the Army, but decided to re-enlist. In June he was injured when a road side bomb exploded. Doctors had to amputate his leg and he has been recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio ever since.

"I was so low I didn't care if I walked, didn't give a rat's ass if I recovered, made it out. My mom being there with me the whole time brought me back up. It's been good," said Johnny.

His mom's co-workers at Technology Credit Union donated a total of six months of their vacation days to Van Nguyen so she could be at her son's bedside. She has not only watched him struggle physically, but emotionally as well.

"He didn't want to get out of the car. He said 'I don't want people to look at me weird.' But I would say 'Well, you need to get out there,'" said Van.

Johnny says he cannot wait to share Thanksgiving with his family -- he hasn't been home since January.

The Patriot Guard Riders gave him a loud escort home.

"It's been a while, so it feels great. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else," said Johnny.

He is only home for Thanksgiving and will have to go back. His mom will go with him, but she has to return back to work in January. Johnny says he's in a good place and very positive about his recovery.


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