Marine welcomed home at Tri-Cities Airport

Geoff Folsom, Tri-City HeraldJune 9, 2014 

More than 50 riders from the Patriot Guard and other veterans groups lined the walkway at Tri-Cities Airport when Marine Lance Cpl. Casey Allison arrived.

They held American flags and greeted Allison, 21, upon his arrival just before 8 p.m. Monday. The Marines' Hymn played first, then Lee Greenwood's God Bless the USA.

The bikers planned to give Allison an escort to his grandparents' home in Boardman, Ore.

Allison, of Hermiston, has been in rehabilitation for four months after stepping on an improvised explosive device Jan. 28 in Afghanistan.

He spent time at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., then at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. He lost his lower right leg and injured his left hand. He is now in outpatient physical therapy learning to walk on a prosthetic leg.

"I never thought that many people would get together to see me come home," Allison said upon arriving. "I love being from a small town like this. Everybody comes together."

Allison made his way though the crowd without assistance. He was pleased with the progress he's made.

"I'd have to say I'm doing good," he said.

His mother, Kelly Hirz of Moses Lake, said Allison will be in the area until June 29.

"He's going to go back a little bit to how life was before his injuries," she said.

Allison plans to visit friends and take a trip to stay in a cabin in the mountains near Heppner, said his grandfather, Dan Headding.

"We'll probably spend a lot of his leave up there," Headding said.

A benefit dinner for Allison is planned for 5 p.m. Friday at the Hermiston Conference Center.

The welcome home was moving for Allison's family, Hirz said.

"Ever since Casey's injury, it's been overwhelming the amount of love and support and prayers," she said. "It means the world."

Allison's wife, Mia, and 6-month-old daughter, Ava, were by his side. He met his daughter for the first time in the hospital.

The Patriot Guard Riders escorted Allison with groups from both Oregon and Washington because they felt it was their duty. Organizer Neal Miller said the trip Monday would be more enjoyable than what they are primarily known for -- providing flag lines at funerals for soldiers killed overseas.

"This is a lot better atmosphere," Miller said. "A lot less tears of sadness."

-- Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom

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