Lance Corporal Justin Rodgers arrived at baggage claim at DFW International Airport to find a rousing hero's welcome that he wasn't expecting. It included more than a hundred relatives, friends and members of the Patriot Guard Motorcycle Club.
The 19-year-old from Roanoke was touched. Rodgers said, "I haven't seen some of these guys in over a year and I was expecting to see a few of them, not an army of people."
Afghanistan. However, Rodgers' mother Laura Russell said they were blessed. Russell said, "They saved his arm, they saved; he could be a lot worse."
Sirens blared as airport police officers led Rodgers' family and their Patriot Guard escort to Roanoke. Along the way the Trophy Club Fire Department saluted Rodgers by displaying a huge American flag on an overpass above Highway 114.
When the family arrived at its home, there was another huge reception complete with a giant replica of the Liberty Bell. Afterward, Justin Rodgers spoke with us about what happened to him on August 25th.
Rodgers was riding in a Humvee and a 14-year-old boy threw a grenade at him. The grenade blew up ripping apart Rodgers' left arm and wounding his side and face.
After numerous surgeries and weeks of therapy Rodgers is regaining use of his arm, but a tattoo of a grenade will always remind him of the attack. Rodgers said, "Did it change my perspective on the Marine Corps? No. Change my perspective on life? Yes. I try not to take as many things for granted as I did before."
After Christmas, Justin Rodgers will head back to the hospital and then back to Afghanistan. He says he believes in the work his unit is doing there and he says it's good to know that many people in the U.S. are supporting them.
Rodgers received a Purple Heart Medal for being wounded in action.