Wounded soldier returns home to hero's welcome
Posted: February 17, 2012 - 3:47pm
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ANTHONY S. BUSH/THE CAPITAL-JOURNAL
Melissa Jarboe wife of Fort Riley-based Army Sgt. Jamie Jarboe greets her husband Friday at Philip Billard Muncipal Airport. Jarboe was shot by a sniper in Afghanistan in April 2011.
By Samantha Foster
The Fort Riley-based soldier was on foot patrol on April 10, 2011, in the Zhari district of Afghanistan. Suddenly, a sniper’s bullet from an AK-47 rifle struck him in the left side of the neck.
The shooting left Sgt. Jamie Jarboe, 27, a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down. The bullet had penetrated his spine.
On Friday afternoon, after 10 months of surgeries and rehabilitation, Jarboe returned home to Topeka to a hero’s welcome from his family, friends and the community.
At Philip Billard Municipal Airport, Jarboe’s wife, Melissa, and their two daughters, Celestial and Alexa, walked through the crowd to speak to members of the Patriot Guard Riders and American Legion Post 421 and others who were in attendance to welcome Jarboe home outside the airport terminal while waiting for his airplane to arrive.
The plane landed about 2:45 p.m. About 40 members of the American Legion and Patriot Guard Riders stood at attention while Jarboe was moved from the plane onto a stretcher. Before he was placed into the waiting ambulance to be transported to St. Francis Health Center, he looked out at the crowd and flags as his wife spoke to him.
Melissa Jarboe thanked everyone for welcoming Jamie home before climbing into the back of the ambulance with him. The Patriot Guard motorcycle riders escorted the ambulance to the hospital.
Although Melissa said she is happy to have Jamie home in Topeka where she and their daughters will be able to see him daily, he still has several more surgeries ahead.
Melissa said she wanted to get Jamie home where he would have more support. Throughout the difficulty of the past 10 months, she said, the family has “put God first.”
“It’s better that way, instead of asking, ‘Why me?’ ” Melissa said.
She said Tuesday, Valentine’s Day, was the couple’s one-year anniversary.
“Most people don’t spend their first year of marriage going through hell, but we did,” she said.
The future, she said, will be easier than the past 10 months.
Jarboe has undergone more than 100 surgeries, first at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, then at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He was then transferred to a rehabilitation facility in Denver.
Jarboe was stationed at Fort Riley beginning in September 2009 and was deployed to Afghanistan in February 2011.
My name is Melissa Jarboe, military spouse, wounded warrior wife and war widow. Today and everyday moving forward, I will honor the sacrifice of our men and women who selflessly serve our nation.