Paralyzed Marine Joshua Hoffman returns home to well-wishers
"Can I give you a kiss?"
Posted by Ted Roelofs | The Grand Rapids Press March 25, 2008 15:55PM
Ex-Marine Joshua Hoffman raised his eyebrows twice: The answer was yes.
Then, to the applause of hundreds in the Alticor hangar at Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Hoffman, 26, made his journey on a gurney toward a waiting ambulance and the next chapter of his life.
"I told myself when I got here I wasn't going to cry," said Jacob Hoffman, 24, a Wayland resident found it impossible like many others Tuesday to hold back tears.
It is a bittersweet homecoming for Hoffman, paralyzed from the chest down by a sniper's bullet in Iraq in January 2006. He has been in a Virginia Veterans Administration hospital since February 2007
Accompanied by his fiancee, Heather Lovell, 21, he was wheeled through a sea of American flags and well-wishers. They included dozens of Marines from his home unit, the Grand Rapids-based Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment.
Jacob Hoffman grappled for words as he tried to express what the support meant to him.
"To me, it meant the world, everyone showing up here. All these people came to support my brother. To me, it means they care.
"To me, it's bigger than any gift you can give."