Parade of motorcycles, emergency vehicles welcomes Pa. soldier home
The York Dispatch, Pa.
MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, Pa. — As the nearly 100 motorcyclists dismounted their bikes, they erupted into applause, welcoming home wounded warrior U.S. Army Cpl. Matthew Hanes to his parents' revamped Manchester Township home Wednesday afternoon.
One rider summed up the feeling among the crowd as he called out, "Welcome home, Matt," bringing even more applause and cheers from the crowd.
The riders were part of a procession of motorcycles, police cars and other emergency vehicles that escorted Hanes, 21, and his family from the Maryland line to their home. Some of the motorcyclists rode with the family from Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, where Hanes flew in.
"I'm ecstatic," said Lee Hanes, Matthew Hanes' father, "We've waited several months."
Wounded: Matthew Hanes' return home came nearly a year after he was wounded in Afghanistan.
He was shot while on patrol in Afghanistan in June, and two vertebrae were shattered, leaving him with limited use of his upper body and no use of his lower extremities.
He was in critical care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center before being transferred in July to the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa, where he was until Tuesday. The hospital specializes in spinal cord injury rehabilitation.
Lee Hanes said his son is making progress but there's still a lot of work ahead of him.
Project: While he was in Florida, a number of community members, including businesses and school children, donated time and money to make the Hanes' home accessible to Matthew Hanes.
A local business also donated a wheelchair lift so Matthew will be able to access the basement, where an exercise room will be built.
"The community was astronomical in what they did for us," Lee Hanes said.
Outside the Hanes' home, a large sign stated the names of companies and groups that sponsored the project as an American flag stood still on a pole.
Neighbor Barbara Garrod said the company she works for, Garrod Hydraulics, donated materials toward the effort.
She was one of a number of people who turned up to welcome Matthew Hanes home.
"You hear a lot about the ones that are killed but not about the ones that are injured," Garrod said.
Cold ride: Don Haag of Harrisburg and a U.S. Army and Marine Corps veteran was one of the roughly dozen members of Pennsylvania chapter of the Warrior Brotherhood who escorted the Hanes family from the airport to their home.
During parts of the ride, they faced snow, hail and sleet, he said.
But the weather didn't deter the riders from what they set out to do.
"We do this because it's the right thing to do," Haag said.
As the group crossed the Mason-Dixon Line, other motorcycles joined in and escorted the group the rest of the way.
At the Leader Heights overpass, about a dozen people stood on the bridge near a Goodwill Fire Co. ladder truck that raised its ladder and flew the stars and stripes.
Additional people crowded the streets of Manchester to watch the motorcade pass.
Brian Searle, a veteran and a member of the American Legion Riders of Red Lion, said he was amazed by the number of people who turned out.
"It's such a good feeling, especially when it's a welcome home ride," he said.