UPDATE: Wounded soldier hailed on return to Vancouver
Pfc. Cory Doane was injured in July by an IED in Afghanistan
Originally published November 18, 2011 at 8:46 p.m., updated November 18, 2011 at 10:44 p.m.
• The Pfc. Cory Doane Fund has been established at iQ Credit Union
• http://AHeroWasHere.org is a Vancouver-based nonprofit that supports wounded service members
A Vancouver soldier got a hero’s welcome Friday afternoon, complete with a motorcycle honor guard that escorted Pfc. Cory Doane from the Portland airport and past flag-waving neighbors along his route home.
After taking in all the “Welcome Home” signs, Doane walked a few paces up his driveway with his prosthetic right leg and told the people gathered in the cul-de-sac: “Thank you guys. I appreciate it.”
And then Doane offered thoughts for two different groups of comrades: the buddies he left behind in Afghanistan, some of them dead, and 200 amputees who are with him at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, near Washington, D.C.
“A lot of them are a lot worse off than I am,” Doane said.
The 2009 graduate of Mountain View High School lost part of his right leg, below the knee when an improvised explosive device went off four months ago. But some of the wounded warriors he’s with now don’t have legs at all, Doane said.
“The ones with artificial knees have it 10 times harder than anything I do,” said Doane, who is with the Army’s 10th Mountain Division, based in Fort Drum, N.Y.
Doane had been in Afghanistan for about three months when was wounded July 3, said Jessica Rasmussen. She drove her brother and their mother, Rhonda Doane, home from the airport Friday, accompanied by Patriot Guard Riders.
Doane saw enemy activity, and turned to warn the other soldiers in his unit.
“He was able to yell for them to get back. While he was yelling, the Taliban detonated it under him,” Rasmussen said.
In addition to losing his lower right leg, Doane suffered other serious injuries, she said.
“There was a lot of lower-body nerve damage,” she said. “Lots of foreign objects were blown into the wound that caused infections.”
Doane was flown to a military medical center in Germany, then to the Army’s old Walter Reed medical center.
“He had about 14 surgeries there,” Rasmussen said. “After it was closed down, he was moved to the new one” at Bethesda, Md.
While Doane has more surgeries ahead, “They’re trying to let him heal now,” Rasmussen said. “He’s involved in physical therapy. They have to keep the leg moving, or he will lose the bending motion.”
Rhonda Doane has been with her son since July.
“This is amazing, the support from his friends,” she said. Particularly, she added, when there were times when he didn’t know if he’d ever see them again.
She and her son will head back to Walter Reed after their Thanksgiving break, she said.
Doane said he is looking forward to meeting new goals when he gets back to the medical center.
“I just started walking without canes,” the soldier said. “I need to get rid of this limp, and then I’ll get my running leg.”
Many of the people waving flags along the route in Cascade Park didn’t know Doane, but they wanted to honor his service.
They included Samantha Burnside, who was waiting along Talton Avenue.
“I was coming home, and I saw flags,” she said. “I stopped and asked what was going on.”
When she learned that a wounded soldier was coming home for Thanksgiving, she went home and returned with a flag and sons Alec, 13, and Blake, 9.
“It’s important for us to show our support,” Burnside said.
There was another person in the group whom Doane had never met, but he’s looking forward to getting to know — his niece, Skylar Rasmussen.
“She was born on April 1, 2011,” Jessica Rasmussen said. “The same day he flew to Afghanistan.”
Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://www.twitter.com/col_history; firstname.lastname@example.org.