A Hero's Welcome Home

April 7, 2007 - Posted at 5:39 p.m. CDT

POCAHONTAS-After being wounded in Iraq last January, Corporal Chris Shelhamer of Reyno returned home to a jubilant welcome."Whenever you come home and you have this amount of warmth just ready to engulf you, it's amazing. It really is."

Saturday afternoon people from near and far came to thank Corporal Chris Shelhamer for the price he paid.

"We civilians are and will be eternally greatful that you and all of the dedicated persons of the military are generous enough, brave enough, and strong enough to protect our freedom."

That freedom is one not everyone lives to protect.

"I've lost a lot of really good friends and very close brothers in this war, but each one of us knew what we were doing. We knew why we were going there," said Shelhamer.

With a radiant dipslay of red, white, and blue, it was evident the impact that Corporal Shelhamer had not only on his country, but this community.

"I didn't know him at all til now. He's an awesome man. After I talked to him for about three minutes I felt like I knew him for years," said Caleb Bowman.

Welcome homes are close to Bowman's heart. His dad also served in Iraq.

"I have a love for them more than I can talk about. I know they are out there doing stuff for us. It's just awesome to hear about the stuff," said Bowman.

It's that understanding that keeps soldiers marching on.

"That's the reason I do this. That's what makes it important for me. To know that I am providing them with the ability to have a way of life," said Shelhamer.

That way of life wouldn't be there without the protection of our armed forces.

"Knowing that hundreds of them are dying everyday, it's just kinda heart ripping. I feel like I know every one of them," said Bowman.

On this day, Caleb not only got to know Corporal Shelhamer, but he also got to see him off, in true American style.The community is pulling together to help remodel Shelhamer's home so he can start his new life back in Arkansas.

If you would like to make contributions to that fund you can do so at any First Community Bank.

Story ideas or comments?  Email Will at wcarter@kait8.com