Thousands Line Streets of Cedar Falls to Give Injured Vet a Hero's Homecoming: Photos
Navy petty officer Taylor Morris, a Cedar Falls native, was injured in Afghanistan. This weekend's visit is his first trip home since January.
You're our hero. Thank you. Welcome home.
Those were the sentiments echoed over and over on signs lining Cedar Falls streets Thursday. Thousands turned out to give Cedar Falls native and Navy Petty Officer Taylor Morris a hero's welcome home.
"I think he's not only a hero in what he did in battle but in his attitude," Carol Dotseth, of Cedar Falls, said as she waited on Main Street. "He is inspiring. He truly is a hero."
Morris, 23, an explosive detection and disposal expert with the Navy, lost parts of all four limbs in a May bomb explosion in Afghanistan. He has been recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., since then.
This was his first trip back to Cedar Falls since his January deployment and since the bomb blast. He is home for a weekend wedding and will then head back to his apartment at Walter Reed.
"I want to honor our young people, especially our town hero," Kay Jenkins, 75, of Waterloo, said. "I want to thank him."
The American flag-waving crowds on downtown Main Street were only part of the welcome party. Morris's ride from the Waterloo airport included an honor guard of Waterloo Police and Black Hawk County Sheriff's deputies. Sitting in a white convertible with girlfriend Danielle Kelly, Morris was followed by a procession of about 150 motorcycle-riding members of the Patriot Guard.
After turning off Main Street, the motorcade traveled past Lincoln Elementary, Cedar Falls High School and Holmes Junior High. Students and staff at each cheered as he drove by. The Cedar Falls High School band played.
"It seems like the right thing to do," Rachel Braunigan, 43, of Cedar Falls, said on Main Street. "To honor someone from this town, to say welcome home and thanks for all you've done."