Flags, friends, and family welcome home local wounded soldier
Flags lined the road going into Landmark Aviation at Hancock airport Wednesday afternoon, each held by a member of the Patriot Guard Riders, welcoming home U.S. Army Pfc Matt Leyva.
With his friends and family flanking him on both sides, Leyva made his way through the flag line on his wheelchair, smiling and waving at those saluting him for his service.
"It's an honor really. Not everybody gets something like this - I never expected this. It's pretty cool," said Leyva.
It was his first time home after getting injured while on duty in Kandahar, Afghanistan in August of 2011. Leyva stepped on a land mine, losing both of his legs, and injuring both of his hands and arms. Since his injury occurred, Leyva has been in Texas rehabilitating his injuries.
"He doesn't regret anything that he did. He would rather it be him than one of his guys. That's the first thing he said. He wanted to make sure no one else was injured or killed," said Rene Sochia.
Matt Leyva hopes to work with the Wounded Warrior project. He's already been helping other wounded veterans deal with their injuries.
"People that get injured, they sometimes get themselves down for what happened to them. It's not their fault. You just have to live with it and drive on. That's what I'm doing," said Leyva.
Raised in Central New York, Leyva is a Cicero-North Syracuse graduate, while his wife Rae Lynn, is also from North Syracuse. Married in July 2011, Leyva and his wife plan on renewing their vows in the month of August.
He will be in town for a week, before going back for another few weeks to continue his rehabilitation.