Community welcomes home wounded warrior

September 18, 2012 4:22:51 PM PDT
Twenty-six-year old Sgt. Bradley Ross Thomas was injured by an improvised explosive device back in 2008. He was just one month into his very first deployment and has been hospitalized at various facilities around the world ever since.

On Tuesday, his home town of Jones Creek pulled out all the stops to welcome him to his new home designed for his special needs.

Joy, disbelief, respect -- you feel it all as Sgt. Thomas returns home.

"He won't give up. We got a long way to go but that's OK. We're taking it a day at a time," said Rocky Thomas, Sgt. Thomas' father.

Four years ago, Sgt. Thomas was serving in iraq when an IED exploded under his humvee. The explosion killed one of his fellow soldiers and Sgt. Thomas has been recovering at the Tampa Veterans Affairs Hospital ever since. He still can't walk, talk, or even eat on his own.

"He is one tough old dude, that's all I can say. I have never seen a stronger human being in my life," said the sergeant's brother, Corey Thomas.

"He's always been my hero growing up and even at his worst time, he's always there to support somebody else," his cousin Megan Crocker said.

On Tuesday, his community came out to show gratitude. As Sgt. Thomas rode in the back of an ambulance, hundreds of friends, relatives, and strangers lined the streets of Jones Creek. Some held signs, some waved flags, others simply stood at attention.

"I took my boys out of school, I wanted them to see what was really important. Brad Thomas gave it all for us and I want them to know what a real hero looks like. It's not Spiderman, it's not Superman, it's the man who lives in that house," said Ryan Cade, who attended the parade.

"What would you like to say to him?" we asked seven-year-old parade attendee Reagan Cade.

"Thank you," he said.

Sgt. Thomas' new home is handicapped accessible and there's even a elevator and therapy room inside. This was all paid for with donations. Jones Creek officials even waived some of the paperwork requirements to get it done in time.

"She started crying and said is that the Thomas home? You don't need a permit, you don't need anything, just build," builder Danny McCulung said.

Sgt. Thomas will live and recover here with his parents.

"More friends and family can come visit him. I think that interaction will help out a lot with this process," said Rocky Thomas Jr., the sergeant's other brother.

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