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Soldier returns home in time for Thanksgiving

November 26, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A 32-year-old soldier from Grand Terrace had a long recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. And he has a Purple Heart to prove it.As the Sarver family sits down to a Thanksgiving dinner, they have a lot to be thankful for. First off, to be blessed with all the trimmings of a traditional Thanksgiving feast: asparagus, potatoes, yams, and of course turkey.

While the family is certainly thankful for all of the food, perhaps the thing they're most thankful for is the return of U.S. Army Sgt. Neil Avant, who was wounded in Iraq.

"I was terrified actually, I was always worried how bad he was injured, if he was going to make it," said Lesley Sarver, Neil's mother.

It was May of this year when Lesley got the terrible news that her son was wounded by a suicide bomber in Baghdad.

"I didn't know what to think. She was always worried, from the time he went there," said John Sarver, Avant's stepfather.

But now six months later, he's home. He got home last Friday. His plane touched down just in time for Thanksgiving.

"She didn't even let me get out of the gate. It was holding up traffic coming off that plane but she was there and it was cool," said Avant.

So on Thanksgiving day it's not hard to find things to be thankful for at this home

"I'm truly blessed because I got him in one piece and he's home. That's the most important thing," said Lesley.

"Thanksgiving is definitely something I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a long list of people to be thankful for: my doctors, and my nurses, my friends and my family. It has definitely been an amazing experience," said Avant.

Avant was presented with the Purple Heart, an honor he's certainly thankful for. But on Thanksgiving, he's probably most thankful for something much more simple: a Thanksgiving meal with family.


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