Injured soldier returns home to Waterloo - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Injured soldier returns home to Waterloo

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WATERLOO (KWWL) – One eastern Iowa family received a very special Christmas gift Tuesday afternoon. The Ralston family of Waterloo welcomed home their son Ian, almost eight months since he was severely injured while serving in Iraq.

Ralston was left a quadriplegic after he was hit with shrapnel from an improvised explosive device.

Family, friends, and patriot guard riders lined the road leading the Ralston's home, giving a hero's welcome for a young man who continues to fight to every day to get stronger.

"This was America showing love and showing support. It is overwhelming and really beautiful is the best thing to describe it. This is a beautiful act of a lot of people that really care," said Ian's father, Steve Ralston.

More than a dozen Patriot Guard Riders made their way north of Waterloo to welcome Ralston home, placing flags along the road and driveway. The bitterly cold temperatures couldn't keep this group away.

"It's a very small sacrifice for what these soldiers give up for us. Ian is devastated for life with his injury and so on, paralyzed probably for the rest of his life and he did it for you and I," said ride captain, Terry Mitchel.

The Ralston's home has been undergoing a major renovation over the past couple of months to make sure Ian is able to get around. Most of the supplies and work were donated.

"We both served our country and we didn't near make the sacrifice this gentleman did so this is a way we can give back to him and to our other vets who are out there," said Terry Hicks of American Veterans Plumbing.

And for Ralston, there's no place like home. 

"He isn't an extremely emotive person necessarily just the smile and the 'glad to be here Dad', just tells me the whole thing. He's glad to be home, glad to be out of the hospital and glad to be home," said Steve Ralston.

Tuesday's homecoming almost didn't happen. Ian woke up with a temperature of 102 degrees, but after some tests his temperature went back down to normal and he was released from the hospital. Friends say his strong desire to come home forced temperature back down.

 Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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