Update 3/15/2013 5:45 P.M.
As Kyle Hockenberry was wheeled out from a helicopter in a field off Bells Run Road, the crowd cheered.
"What an entrance for an American Hero," a speaker blared. "Please give it up for Kyle Hockenberry!
But, for the Army Specialist, this entrance isn't into unfamiliar territory. He lived not far from this site south of Newport, and hunted here. Now, however, it will be where Hockenberry and his wife, Ashley, will live and raise a family. In less than two years, it has been a long road not just to recovery, but to get to the construction of their new home.
"An up and down ride, like a roller coaster," notes his father, Chet. "But it's coming around, and the support we've received and continue to receive, keeps amazing me."
Kyle chose to live here, where his great-great grandmother lived for 40 years until the 1970's.
"This house holds a lot of memories for my sister and I," says Kyle's grandmother, Barbara. "We always had a great time here. Grandma always made us baked bread and we came to visit her every Sunday, because she lived alone."
Back when Kyle's great-great grandmother lived here, The house, to say the least, didn't have a lot of conveiences. It won't be that way when Kyle moves here.
It will have electronic devices which all but work by themselves. and additions such as a basement which will allow the triple amputee access to the outside. And Kyle made sure pieces of the old house will be part of the new one.
"I'm just honored that my family kept it," Hockenberry said after Friday's groundbreaking ceremony, "and now they're giving it to me, so I can build my house here."
Kyle is expected to continue his rehabilitation at San Antonio, Texas until late spring. When that is over, he and his wife will truly come home.
Donations are still being accepted for the construction and furnishing of the Hockenberry home. There's more information at the "Tower to Tunnels" link on our "Hot Button" page.
UPDATE: 2/20/12 7:00 PM
A local hero has a homecoming stretching across both sides of the river. Hundreds gathered to welcome home PFC Kyle Hockenberry.
"Welcome home son, and we're proud of you," Kyle's father, Chet Hockenberry says.
Cheers, laughter, and tears of joy filled the Valley as PFC Kyle Hockenberry was welcomed home by friends, family, and pretty much the entire community.
"He's a veteran. He paid part of the ultimate sacrifice. He was unfortunately injured. But he came back so as long as they come back that's all that matters. So we gotta support him," supporter Joe Nicholas says.
Kyle was severely wounded in June from an IED explosion in Afghanistan. Since then he's been recovering in Texas, and it's his first trip home.
Kyle's cousin, Shandele Miller couldn't wait any longer to see her cousin. "He's excited to be home and I can't wait to see his reaction and just feed off of it. There's just so much love and support from this community. It's just gonna be awesome."
But it wasn't an easy road to get here, Kyle lost both legs and an arm.
"He's been a fighter ever since that day, and we knew he would fight through it and make it through it," Kyle's aunt, Nancy Becker says.
"He's strong. He always has been strong and I knew he wouldn't let us down," Gabby Becker, Kyle's cousin, adds.
But looking at him, and hearing his laughter and jokes you would never know how badly he was hurt.
"At least my face still looks good," Kyle jokes.
His brother, Chad Hockenberry, says, "same old Kyle, he just goofs around all the time, and jokes. He ain't gonna let this get him down. We've just been waiting patiently. Waiting for him to get here. I know we're all excited. Kyle's excited. I don't know if he's going to expect all this turnout, but it's good for him to see the support."
It's the ultimate showing of support for someone so many call a hero.
"It's just honoring a veteran that's given a lot to his country. So we're all here honoring him," Patriot Guard Rider, Dave Nestor says.
As Kyle prepares for a two week visit with his family, they know it's good to have him home.
"His sense of humor. I just can't wait to joke with him. That's my favorite part, just getting to be with him and joke around," Kyle's cousin, Shandele says.
Kyle goes back to Texas in two weeks for one more surgery and further rehab. His family says he is on track to be home for good a year from now.
UPDATE: 2/19/2012 10:43 PM
"Pretty excited. He's anxious to get home," says Kyle's father Chet Hockenberry.
And his family is anxious to have him home. After two days of cancelled flights the whole town is ready for the homecoming of Private First Class Kyle Hockenberry.
"It's just tremendous support out there from everybody and it hasn't died down since you know last June. It just continues to be there for him. When you're down there you hear about it but when you come home and get to see it it's a whole different perspective," says Chet.
Hockenberry lost both legs and an arm from an IED explosion while serving in Afghanistan. After spending nearly 8 months recovering in Texas he's heading home for the first time.
His strength brought him to a quick recovery allowing him to make the trip back to the Valley.
"Its just amazing because nothing has slowed him down or stopped him at all. I mean, to watch the things that he does with one arm, that we would struggle with two arms and two legs," says Kyle's aunt Stacy Hall.
He has one more surgery and hopes are he'll be home for good by next year.
"He's doing excellent and you know it's because of all the prayer and support that he's had. That's why he's still here you know. So it'll be, it'll be awesome to get him home," says Hall.
After landing Kyle and his family will drive down Front Street in Marietta where members of the community are planning to line up to show their support.
He'll be home for two weeks before returning to Texas to continue his treatment.
UPDATE 2/19/2012 2:54 PM
Kyle's family tells WTAP the flight has been rescheduled for Monday, February 19th. He is expected to fly into the Wood County Regional Airport at 1p.m.
Kyle Hockenberry was supposed to be on his way home today, but the flight has been cancelled due to weather.
The family says they are disappointed, but hope he will be able to come home tomorrow.
Stay tuned to WTAP and WTAP.com for the latest information on his return.
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