By John Maino. CREATED Dec 12, 2013
Green Bay, WI -- Whether they're together in the Iraqi desert or at the Frozen Tundra, the bond formed between a group of soldiers in war is constant.
"You become family. They're not only your best friends, your brothers, they're everything to you."
A recent reunion of veterans was especially sweet for one member of the unit, William De Leon of Puerto Rico, who somehow found himself assigned to a Wisconsin unit and has savored every second of getting back together.
"It's not a handshake. It's a big, warm hug and I'm numb right now. I don't feel anything. I'm surrounded by love. There's no way this cold is going to get to me anymore," De Leon said while in the stands watching a Packers game at Lambeau Field.
There was a time De, as he's called, wasn't sure he would make a trip like this. He was severely wounded in war. He spent 14 months recovering from one really bad day.
"3 months in intensive care and after that just worked myself out to be more independent. I transitioned from a wheelchair to crutches to the cane and then braces. I did it all," explains De Leon.
But through it all, one wish stayed alive.
His former comrade in arms says," He always told me he wanted to go deer hunting in Wisconsin."
So with help from the Desert Vets of Wisconsin and the Take Em Outdoors Foundation, the dream came true and culminated with a 12 point buck.
De Leon says," I pictured me coming back and just visiting but that trip was great."
The big buck was just one of the stories for his buddies back home.
"I will tell them I was blessed. I've mentioned to the guys that from every bad experience, something good has to come out of it and this is beyond good," said De Leon.