Local Marine injured in Afghanistan returns home

November 20, 2011 (MANHATTAN, Ill.)

Purple Heart recipient Cpl. Nicholas Buchhaas has undergone extensive medical treatment and physical therapy since being severely injured by two different roadside bombs in Afghanistan.

He's been back in United States at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina for a few weeks, but on Sunday, he got to come home to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family and friends.

After seven months in dangerous enemy territory in Afghanistan, Buchhaas said it mean a great deal to him to see so many people gathered to welcome him home.

"There are no words to say what happened today. It is simply amazing," Buchhaas said.

Buchhaas had only served seven months in Afghanistan on his first tour when he was severely injured. He suffered a class one concussion and traumatic brain injury. He is able to walk now, and has regained much of his faculties but he still requires extensive physical therapy. For his family back home in Manhattan, it's been a trying time.

"There are so many things that they cannot tell us, and when he is injured, that is all we know. We do not know what the extent of his injuries were for a couple of days, and just having that feeling in the pit of your stomach that there could be something wrong with my little brother," said Nicole Buchhaas, sister.

The Patriot Guard Riders organized a motorcycle escort, complete with police and military vehicles, to drive Bucchhaas straight to his front driveway where lots of familiar faces were waiting. The Patriot Guard tries to do this for all returning soldiers.

"To see all these people here and know that he's OK, it's almost as good as his birth," said Sherry Yezerski, mother.

Buchhaas says he's pretty sure this is going to be his best Thanksgiving ever. He does have to go back to Camp Lejeune. He is serving in a special unit in the Marines that attempts to identify and eliminate roadside bombs like the one that injured him.

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