JEFFERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) - A bittersweet homecoming for an injured soldier tonight.
Sergeant Michael Trost was shot four times while helping to build a school in Afghanistan. He spent three months recovering in Maryland, then finally could return home to Maryville.
Trost is not originally from Tennessee, but he's certainly made a lot of friends in the place he now calls home.
Dozens from the Patriot Guard Riders and friends gathered at a rest stop on I-81 in Jefferson County to greet him.
They held a line of flags as Trost and his wife drove through.
"Our motto in the Patriot Guard is standing for those who stood for us, and we plan to keep it going," said Deb McKay, the East Tennessee Assistant State Captain for the Patriot Guard.
It's a long trip from Maryland to Tennessee, but it's a journey that Trost is thankful he gets to make.
"I got both arms and legs. Yeah, I'm missing a few digits, but that's nothing compared to some of those guys. They're double amputees, triple amputee, even quad. I'm lucky," said Sgt. Michael Trost.
He was quick with a joke and a smile, and says his sense of humor is what's helping him recover. He shook hands and embraced anyone who said hello, many he didn't know before tonight, but there were some old friends.
"Hard to hold back the tears," said Sgt. Mike Galaway.
Galaway and Trost are best friends at the base in Knoxville, and he says all Trost could talk about was finally coming home.
"He's been looking forward to it for a long time, that's been his number one goal. Going through all of the surgeries, and all of the rehab was to get home and to get back to Maryville," said Galaway.
After 30 minutes, the Patriot Riders got back on their bikes, and escorted the Trosts all the way from the rest stop to his driveway.
More friends and well-wishers were waiting at his house to greet him. But he wasn't returning to the same farm that he left in November.
Dozens of volunteers helped renovate his barn, which was a project he started a couple years ago. They also worked on turning his gravel drive-way into a smoother surface, making it easier for him to move on.
The New Hope Board of Directors, which Stephanie Trost is a member of, helped spearhead the effort. It's a thank you for his help in fundraising efforts.
"They're just good, honest, salt of the earth kind of people that will help you out. And this is just all for one person," said Trost.
"It's just the right thing to do. Community is community, family. And it is the absolutely least we could do for what he's done for us," said Christopher Kiewiet, a volunteer.
Now that he's back on his farm, he's just excited for the simple things in life.
"Just sit on the front porch, and have a cup of coffee. Then maybe with my wife at night, sitting in our porch swing watching the sunset. That's what we want to do," said Trost.
He said it's going to take a long time to thank everyone who helped make his homecoming special. He says he still has to go back to Walter Reed.