Hundreds turn out to welcome home Bryan soldier

BRYAN, OH (Toledo News Now)- A northwest Ohio community went out in hundreds to welcome home its very own hero, 20-year-old army specialist Austin Weigle. Weigle or "Doc" returned home to Bryan Tuesday afternoon after he was injured in Afghanistan about a month ago.

May first was declared "Austin Weigle Day" in Bryan.

Weigle's welcome was complete with emotional reunions. Businesses posted 'welcome home' messages from their signs, and Bryan residents lined the streets to say thank you, whether they knew Weigle or not.

"I just want him to know that I appreciate his service," said Cori Martinez, a student at Bryan High School.

"Words can't describe how proud I am of him," said Melissa Retcher, a family friend. "He didn't think twice about going to serve his country and protect all of us."

Motorcycles led the parade down High Street. Supporters cheered as Weigle and his family rode by. The parade stopped at Bryan High School, Weigle's former school. The high school band played patriotic tunes, and many local officials spoke about Weigle's bravery.

"It's amazing that in a small town like this you get all of the support. I told myself I'd keep it together on the ride in. It didn't happen," Weigle said to the crowd.

Weigle relived the terrifying day he lost some of his fellow soldiers in northern Afghanistan.

"It was just a regular patrol. We'd done it a thousand times," he said.

Then, there was an explosion. Fragments of a bomb went through Weigle's right side, collapsing his right lung and stopping near his heart. It also hit his small intestine. Weigle was unconscious for a week.

"I'm the medic, so who takes care of the medic?" he asked.

Weigle was at a hospital in Germany, and then was moved to the Walter Reed Medical Center until recently. He said he is happy to continue his recovery at home, where he has an entire city behind him.

"It's great to see them out. It's great to see all the people showing their support," Weigle said.

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