Knoxville Marine Returns Home

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

McGhee-Tyson Airport, Knoxville (WVLT) - Cheers, tears and hugs welcomed a Knoxville Marine injured in Iraq back home.

A crowd of family, friends and churchgoers greeted Lance Corporal William Wilson at McGhee Tyson Airport Monday afternoon.

Volunteer TV’s Mike McCarthy was there for this emotional homecoming.

Lance Corporal Wilson spent the last three weeks at Sam Houston Burn Unit in Texas.

When he walked into the terminal here, he got the welcome home he never saw coming, but the one his family says he deserves.

It's a homecoming seven months in the making. Everyone "just anxious for him to get here."

And Lance Corporal William Wilson's 88-year-old grandmother almost didn't make it. "Because I'm handicapped and I can't walk very much."

But Mary Wilson's here, front and center, and sign in hand, all to "Let him know how glad we are to have him home."

More than 30 families, old friends and first Presbyterian Church members joined Mary at McGhee Tyson airport Monday afternoon.

"I want to see his reaction when he sees all this."

And when Wilson walked in, he got the cheers, hugs and tears he never expected.

"It felt really good. It was definitely a surprise. I expected a couple people to be here, when I saw all these people, it definitely made me a little nervous, too."

He left for Iraq in January, but was injured during an explosion earlier this month.

The second and third degree burns cover his right leg and forced him to learn to walk again.

"I'm healing fast. I'm walking, but it takes up to a year sometimes for skin grafts to heal all the way."

Members of Wilson's church congregation brought love for him, and any patriotism they could find.

"Because I love the US of A and this came out of my flower pot at home."

His family's just thankful he's home alive.

"We're glad that it's not as serious as it could have been. It's certainly better than a lot of people."

Wilson's glad his grandma grabbed her front row seat.

"I didn't think that she was going to make it out for sure, and she toughed it out."

Because this was a moment she didn't want to miss.

Wilson will be home for the next 30 days, then he'll go back to Texas for a health evaluation.

If he's able, and if he's needed, he's willing to go back to Iraq.

He says he loves his family, but he also wants to be with his marine family.

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