TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. - From the main gate of the Combat Center to Shadow Mountain housing, Marines lined the streets. Some held welcome home posters and others waved miniature American flags, all waited for one person. The sound of approaching motorcycles grew louder. He's almost here.
The Marines of 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, welcomed home Staff Sgt. Brandon Dodson, November 17, 2014.
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Brandon Dodson, platoon sergeant, Baker Co, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, is welcomed by Marines of 1/7 at the Combat Center, Nov. 17, 2014. Marines from the entire battalion lined the streets from the Combat Center's main entrance to Dodson's house, unbeknownst to him. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Pfc. Medina Ayala-Lo)
“His wife wanted to do a big homecoming for him when he started feeling good,” said Gunnery Sgt. Hector Jose Angulo, friend of Dodson. “It started out as the company but then we ended up getting the whole battalion involved. Everybody was on board and everybody was willing to welcome him back.”
Dodson, who served as a platoon sergeant, was deployed to Afghanistan for six months when the injury occurred. On August 9, 2014, while conducting a routine patrol in Helmand Province, he stepped on a roadside bomb. He lost both legs.
“The one thing he wanted to do was see his Marines since he didn't get to come back with them,” Angulo said. “You can say he's complete because he was able to see them.”
For the last three months, Dodson has been recuperating with the wounded warriors physical rehabilitation program at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Dodson plans on staying in Twentynine Palms long enough to attend his unit's Marine Corps birthday ball this weekend. After the ball he will be returning to Maryland to continue his rehabilitation.
“I've known Staff Sgt. [Dodson] since 2008. I met him at D.I School and that's where our friendship began,” Angulo said. “He's a man's man. He's really easy to get along with, won't hesitate to tell you how it is.”
Upon landing in Palm Springs, Dodson and his family were greeted by the battalion Sergeant Major and the Commanding Officer. Dodson, a motorcycle enthusiast, was escorted to his house by a motorcycle brigade and when he arrived, he was warmly greeted by the Marines of Baker Company.
“It's absolutely amazing. It really shows me how much influence I have in the battalion and on the Marines, that they would do this for me,” Dodson said.
Being able to see his family and friends again in such a grand way, touched Dodson and he was able to do the one thing he was looking forward to: reunite with his Marines.
“Even though he's been gone for almost four months now, I hope he feels welcome and still part of the First Team," said Sgt. Maj. Chasen E. Getty, battalion sergeant major, 1/7.
By U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Medina Ayala-Lo
Provided through DVIDS
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