Sergeant Ed Matayka said Saturday was an early gift, "Not much more I could ask for before Christmas."
He joined hundreds of others in welcoming home more than 100 guard troops, but he was especially happy to see Sergeant David Schwerer -- the soldier who saved his life. "He's one of the guys I needed to see," Matayka said.
Sergeant Schwerer, known by other soldiers as Squirrel, jumped into action after a convoy in Afghanistan went terribly wrong. The military vehicle Sergeant Matayka was riding in hit a bomb buried under the road. The blast wounded four other Vermont soldiers and killed the driver, Specialist Ryan Grady. Sergeant Matayka lost both of his legs, suffered a massive brain bleed and stroke. He also damaged virtually every organ in his body except his heart. He says he's alive due to support from family and friends and because Squirrel stopped the bleeding in the field.
"Words can't really explain, I dont know how I'm feeling, there's a lot of mixed emotions but I can tell you I'm glad to be back," Schwerer said.
Sergeant Matayka is an Army Medic and talked Squirrel through tying the tourniquets around his legs. Sergeant Matayka's wife, Karen, also a Sergeant with the Guard, credits Squirrel with keeping her husband alive, "I'm just happy he's here, and I thank Squirrel for that. I've thanked him several times already. I'm just glad I got to see him come home. Sergeant Matayka's new battle is his recovery, and he says it hasn't been easy, "There's a lot of days I want to quit but it's not that simple - got a lot to go through," he said.
For the past five months, Sergeant Matayka has been going through eight hours of physical therapy a day and he's just starting to get movement back in his muscles. Many people were anxious to see him and the progress he's made. While Sergeant Matayka says this reunion will be tough to top, there is one other thing he wants for Christmas, "Hopefully new legs, I keep putting them on my Christmas list but we don't know," he said.
But one thing is for certain -- the bond between Sergeant Matayka and Sergeant Schwerer will be a lasting one.
Friday, April 18 2014 10:13 PM EDT2014-04-19 02:13:23 GMT
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