SACRAMENTO, CA - A wounded warrior received a well-deserved hero's welcome for when he arrived at Sacramento International Airport Wednesday night.
Army Specialist Charles Douglas Harris of Placerville lost both his lower legs in a roadside bomb blast in Afghanistan; he came home to continue his recovery with family and friends.
Loved ones gathered around the escalators at the airport to give Harris a proper welcome home and to say thank you.
Harris had a long road to this moment. Throughout his recovery at Walter Reed Medical Center, some big names stopped by to offer their support, but it was the hometown crowd that filled the airport for his first trip home that touched Harris and his family the most.
"He's had a lot of support, a lot of support, and it has helped him quite a bit," Harris' father Charles Harris said. "It's helped us all quite a bit."
Since an improvised explosive device detonated next to him in Afghanistan, Harris has endured a painful rehabilitation. Doctors had to remove parts of each of his legs and perform extensive surgery on his right arm. Now, watching him walk and shake hands marks a major turning point for his parents.
"He takes a big step every single day," Harris' mom, Lisa Harris said. "There's another milestone met, so it's just been incredible watching him."
His parents aren't alone. Harris' younger sister Jessica, herself a Marine in between deployments, has been able to help her brother through his recovery.
"It was tough, but every day he just gets a little bit stronger, and that's really inspiring," Jessica Harris said.
For Harris, one of the biggest challenges remaining is adjusting to all the attention.
"It was a little overwhelming, but it means a lot that there's so many people that are standing behind me, pushing me, keeping me going. It's really motivating," Harris said.
Harris will have 30 days to spend at home with his family before returning to Walter Reed to continue his treatment.
He will will stay busy during his 30-day respite leave. This Friday the local VFW in El Dorado County will host a reception to honor Harris. After that, Harris plans a trip to Fort Lewis in Washington to visit his friends and fellow soldiers who helped save his life.