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Soldier welcomed home

Injured soldier grateful to community

Staff writer

It was a long awaited homecoming for U.S. Army Sgt. Ryan Newell, 23, and his family.

Members of the Marion, Hillsboro, and area American Legion Riders provided a parade of flags from Eastmoor United Methodist Church parking lot in Marion to the Marion VFW post home on West Santa Fe Street.

Newell and his family were outside the VFW, waiting for the parade to arrive.

One by one, the motorcyclists passed by Newell and wife, Carrie, to welcome him home.

Newell was injured in January in Afghanistan when the Humvee in which he was riding was destroyed by a homemade bomb. As a result of the explosion, both of Newell’s legs were amputated.

One surprise visitor at the homecoming celebration was Newell’s staff sergeant from the original unit of which Newell was a member before volunteering for the mission in Afghanistan.

Staff Sgt. Dibble said Newell was a good soldier who volunteered for active duty.

“I am really proud of him,” Dibble said. “He is an exceptional soldier.”

Dibble recalled a telephone conversation he and Newell had shortly after Newell’s injury.

“I was so motivated by Ryan that I re-upped,” Dibble said, referring to retiring from the military but deciding to go another round after talking with Newell.

Newell isn’t from Marion. His wife is, and was making a home in Marion for her children while her husband served.

“I couldn’t ask for a more supportive community,” Newell said, as he expressed his appreciation to the crowd of more than 100 people. He said he was looking forward to spending time in Marion with his family and at the lake.

Newell will return to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., the first part of September for continue rehabilitation but said he was looking forward to returning to the community that has supported he and his family.

“Everyone has been just great,” he said.

Last modified Aug. 20, 2008

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