A Tri-State family got an early Christmas present this weekend. After spending two years in several Army hospitals, a Tri-State soldier's family was finally able to welcome him home.
Alex Dillman's friends and family were overwhelmed to have him home in Oakland City this year for the holidays. Alex was also excited to be receiving a special early Christmas present Saturday.
Saturday, Dillman was presented with a new gun of his own and says he's humbled and honored.
"There's a lot of people that aren't as fortunate as myself to have a great wife and a good family and a great support channel," Dillman said.
Optimism helps Alex everyday.
"It's kind of allowed me to see things in a completely different light, what's important, what's not important, changes all kinds of priorities," he said.
From a young age, Alex knew he wanted to be in the military.
"What really kick started my push was obviously was 9/11, after that it was a done deal," Alex said.
Alex and his wife, Holly, married in March 2008 and Alex left for a one-year deployment in June. Alex and his best friend, Kristopher Gould, deployed for their second tour together in January 2011.
"We deployed during the winter time so when we arrived there was already snow on the ground, and when it snows, it snows," Alex said. 'It just covers the whole ground completely so it's really hard to distinguish what's what."
On February 27, Alex and four others were called out to help. Alex said nothing about the call was standard.
"We left the wire and a lot of it was kind of a blur because of the accident, it being a blast, it really affected my perception of how the events unfolded."
The vehicle had been hit by a mounted IED. Alex suffered multiple leg and face fractures, punctured lungs and a serious spinal cord injury.
Holly says after four days without a phone call, she knew something was wrong. She remembers in vivid detail a call from the captain.
"When I heard it was the captain on the phone and not Alex, I immediately knew and my heart just started beating really fast and it's like that expression when time stands still, it literally was standing still," Holly told 14 News.
Holly met Alex at Walter Reed Army Hospital as soon as he arrived.
"He's taken such good care of me, right then I knew this is my turn to step up and be a wife and take care of him," Holly said.
Alex says his injuries weren't the worst part.
"That wasn't really the hardest to deal with you know, it was the loss of one of your own," he said.
His friend Kristopher passed away in the blast.
"That worst month, the hardest part is just coming to terms with you know you've lost a friend and he's not going to be there," said Alex.
After two months at Walter Reed, Alex began his rehabilitation at the Shepherd Center.
"They got me standing up, using walkers and leg braces," noted Alex.
Holly and Alex both agree on one thing. "My husband's not a hero, the heroes are the ones who don't come home," said Holly.
Alex and Holly recently learned the organization Homes For Our Troops will be building the couple a new home in Florida.
They say the are incredibly appreciative for everyone who has helped throughout these past two years and look forward to the groundbreaking of the new home just after the holidays.
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