Ozark, AL - This past June, a Marine from Ozark stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan and lost his legs. Tuesday, the wounded warrior was welcomed home.
Folks lined up to shake Lance Corporal Stephen Ayhens’ hand and hug his neck welcoming him back to Ozark. For the past two months he has been in a Maryland hospital recovering.
“This is how and why we’re able to be who we are and what we are today. It’s because of men and women who have made sacrifices like young Stephen has made,” says DAV 94 Commander Harry Grainger.
The people of Ozark lined the streets to salute their hometown hero, but the marine says he didn’t expect any special recognition.
Ayhens says, “For me it’s my job. I signed up for this, so I paid the piper. I did my job. I did what I was supposed to do, and I kept them safe. I kept all of those guys over there safe. I gained a family, my brothers. My platoon is my family. I can’t really live without them.”
Ayhens says he draws inspiration from these brothers who came home injured before him.
“I’ve heard that they were hurt early on, and I see them walking up. They came to visit me in the hospital, and that’s what keeps me going. I keep going for the marines that are still there.”
He will return to Maryland to continue his rehabilitation. Ayhens has been fitted for prosthetic legs and hopes to walk again soon.