MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A Mid-South veteran gets a hero's welcome home after nearly losing his life in Afghanistan.
Corporal Christian Brown returned home to the Mid-South well after midnight on Friday and abc24.com was the only news station in Munford when he arrived home to streets lined with residents honoring him for his sacrifice.
CPL Brown arrived at the Memphis International Airport around 1:30 a.m. Friday, almost four hours later than scheduled, but the delay didn't stop crowds from welcoming him home.
This day should have happened 10 months ago. Corporal Brown should have walked off a plane in December 2011 as a war hero. Instead, it's been a long road to get here. In his first interview since he arrived home, CPL Brown told abc24.com, "It seemed really far out at first. When you first wake up, you really don't know what's going on, life has been wrecked, but every day I was working toward this day, so I'm glad to be here."
The Marine was nearly killed in December in an IED explosion in Afghanistan. His family rushed to a German hospital, unsure if he'd ever make it home. His stepfather, J.R. Reed says, "We didn't think this day was going to happen after December 13."
Since then, the Marine's fought for his life, and after losing both legs, he fought for the ability to walk again. CPL Brown says, "New challenges, you know a Marine doesn't know defeat. There will always be a challenge or an expectation as long as you can wake up and feel your shoes, in this case wake up and be hell on wheels, I'm doing the right thing. As long as I'm moving forward I'm happy."
Even with his flight delayed still more than a dozen patriot guard riders waited to give him a proper escort home. Friends, family and strangers lined Munford Avenue and waited until after 2:30 a.m. for CPL Brown to arrive home.
Jessica Hale went to high school with the Marine, she says, "If you can imagine all he's sacrificed, staying up a little late is nothing."
The town's Mayor, Dwayne Cole, has known CPL Brown his whole life, "He has given an enormous sacrifice for our freedom and we want him to know we will not forget that."
Reed says the welcome home was overwhelming, "You don't know the patriotism until you experience this."
Not the experience CPL Brown expected when he left for Afghanistan, but an experience he wouldn't change, "Being a Marine and going to contribute, I wouldn't take it back," CPL Brown says, "I'd do it all over again. I'm proud of what I've done and I'm glad to see everybody."
CPL Brown is being honored in his hometown football game, Munford High School versus Brighton, on Friday night. The event is a fundraiser for the Marine and his family.
CPL Brown will fly back to Maryland to continue his treatment on Sunday.