WASHINGTON - Imagine an entire community hugging Marine Cpl. Josh Himan. That's what it felt like when he arrived home in Woodbridge Saturday after 18-months of rehab at Walter Reed Medical Center.
In September 2009, Himan, 27, was severely wounded in Afghanistan after an IED took out his Humvee, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
Himan was overwhelmed and surprised by his hero's welcome home with well-wishers turning out in force and thrilled to celebrate with him. People lined the streets along the police escorted route for some three miles in Woodbridge.
When Himan got to his house he saw a sea of supporters camped outside of his newly renovated family home. Those supporters were neighbors, local and state leaders, the Assistant Commandant of the Marines along with uniformed Marines that lined both sides of the driveway to honor their brother. And of course, there were many of the volunteers who spent endless hours turning Himan's house into a wheelchair friendly home.
Himan's first words after rolling out of a van in his wheelchair, "I'm home that's all I can say. I'm home."
Jacob Koch, President of the Northern Virginia Fuller Center for Housing, says the all-volunteer organization was able to raise $200,000 in donations, materials, construction work and labor to renovate Josh's family home to make it wheelchair accessible.
Koch says the community really pulled together, with between 500-1000 volunteers, including contractors, helping on this project.
"We worked every day, seven days a week, for the last 58 days," says Koch.
"This project, the fact that it brought so many people together to get behind this young man and to thank him for what he did for our county, I think speaks volumes about what kind of community we are," says Prince William County supervisor Martin Nohe.
The major work that was done was the addition - a first-floor master bedroom with a wheelchair accessible bathroom.
Himan says that the experience is amazing and he can't believe the support. He says he does not know how he can thank everyone.
When asked what he wants to do next? He said, "Probably stop crying. That would be good to stop crying."
Now Himan can spend time with his loving family. After a long journey he is finally home. He will still be away during the week doing rehab work for at least another year, but he will get to spend weekends with his family.
As for the future, Himan has his degree in finance and now he wants to get his masters degree then work on Wall Street.
(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)