NAMPA -- An Idaho soldier had a very special homecoming on Thursday, a homecoming that his parents weren't sure they'd ever see after he was badly wounded in Afghanistan more than a year ago.
Army Staff Sergeant Justin Menchaca, a Green Beret assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group, based out of Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, was shot in the head in Afghanistan in July 2011. He has been recovering and undergoing physical therapy in a Virginia VA Hospital.
Thursday night was the first time in two years Menchaca has been home to Idaho since deployment, and as he walked down the steps, family and friends cheered.
Menchaca and his parents were able to make the trip because of "Veterans Airlift Command" an organization of volunteer plane owners and pilots that help wounded warriors and their families get around to hospitals and back home.
"It's a relief because when we left [Idaho], we weren't sure whether he was coming back with us," Menchaca's mom, Julie Menchaca, said. "So we're extremely happy that he's doing so well and we're able to bring him home and show everybody how well he's doing."
His mom says seeing everyone at the airport was another reminder of how people in Idaho and around the country have supported their family since they first got the news he'd been hurt.
"There's been a lot of people that have been praying for him, and we're very grateful for that. We got the call on a Saturday and Sunday all of our family that's here went to their churches and told everybody, and they started praying and it was just this trickle down effect, and this ripple effect. They went home, told their family and friends," Julie Menchaca said. "We've had emails and cards and letters from people all over the United States from people who don't even know him that have been praying for him. They just heard and started praying and it's meant a lot for our family. So I just want to be able to thank everybody for that. It's helped. He's here."
Menchaca and his parents, who live in Star, will be home in Idaho until Tuesday when he'll get back to his therapy.