Johnson returns home
By LPR Staff
Dozens of Caldwell County veterans, residents and civic leaders watched the elevator door, waiting for the local hero to arrive at baggage claim. Three television crews stood in the background, cameras at the ready to witness the soldier”s welcome.
This was the scene at an impromptu surprise “Welcome Home” party for Spc.
Chad Johnson, who was released from treatment at Walter Reed Hospital and returned home from Washington, D.C. on Friday.
As it turns out, Johnson, a joker to the core, orchestrated his own surprise – wearing a prosthetic leg, he rode down the escalator with his mother, sneaking up behind the crowd.
“No one knew I was walking yet,” Johnson, 20, said. “I”ve only been walking for a few days.”
The crowd, bearing gifts, balloons and good wishes, engulfed Johnson and his mother, Tammy Cunningham, immediately. In a flurry of hugs, tears and news cameras, the two returned to Central Texas for good.
“It”s good to be home,” Johnson said. “I”m looking forward to eating real food again.”
Johnson has been hospitalized in Washington, D.C. since losing a portion of his left leg and sustaining other serious injuries in a car-bomber”s attack in Baghdad, Iraq in September.
A number of Austin and Lockhart veterans, undaunted by the late hour of Johnson”s arrival, joined members of the chambers of commerce, county commissioners court and city council to greet him, bearing a banner provided by Larry Rivera reading simply:
“Welcome Home Chad Johnson.”
Upon his return to Texas, Johnson was scheduled to continue physical therapy at a military hospital in San Antonio.