It was a surprise and an emotional homecoming for our hero, USMC SSgt. Brandon Dodson, 29, and his family Monday. The Twentynine Palms Marine was wheeled off a plane at Palm Springs International Airport and was welcomed by dozens of people.
“Unexpected and definitely appreciated, it makes you feel special,” said Dodson. “I haven’t done anything differently. I just had a bad day at work.”
Dodson’s “bad day” was Aug. 9 in Afghanistan. He was on patrol when he stepped on a roadside bomb and lost both of his legs in the attack.
“I remember when it happened. I was conscious the whole time. I didn’t black out from pain. I tell that story all of time,” said Dodson.
“To me it’s very personal. I was only 300 meters from him when it happened,” said Twentynine Palms Marine, Joshua Broderick.
The double amputee is already taking steps toward recovery at the Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Washington D.C., where he said special visits from loved ones, fellow marines and players from the Pittsburgh Steelers helped keep him smiling and positive.
“It’s been really easy for me to stay positive because I’ve had family with me the entire time,” said Dodson.
Coachella Valley motorcyclists from the Leathernecks and Sword of the Lord Ministries escorted the family to the Twentynine Palms Marine Base where hundreds of Marines and their families also celebrated his homecoming.
Dodson’s trip will be a quick one. He’ll spend about a week in Twentynine Palms and attend the Marine Corps Birthday Ball in Las Vegas this weekend. Then he and his family will head back to Washington to continue the wounded warrior’s physical rehabilitation.
“I’m going to continue to stay active duty. I only did 11 years in the Marine Corps and I have eight-and-a-half years left in my eyes. I want to stay active duty and lead, mentor marines,” said Dodson.
Dodson’s wife Jasmine said the transition’s been hard for them and their 2-year-old son, Indiana, but she’s proud of her husband and thankful for the community’s support.
“I knew there was always a possibility that this could happen,never thought it would,” said Dodson. “From the moment we landed my heart was going 100 mph. I walked out and I see everyone, and I just lost it. It’s amazing how many people are out there who care and just want to support family.”
To help the Dodsons with transportation and finances, loved ones started an online fundraiser at www.gofundme.com.