Hundreds Welcome Home Iraq War Vet, Sochi Paralympian

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Hundreds Welcome Home Iraq War Vet, Sochi Paralympian

CREATED Apr 19, 2014
by Aundrea Cline-Thomas

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Saturday, hundreds of bikers and residents gathered in Clarksville to welcome home Retired Staff Sgt. Heath Calhoun, who won a Silver medal during the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi.

The roar of the engines led you straight to the Clarksville-Montgomery County Regional Airport.

“I was expecting a few bikes but nothing like this,” one biker said. “This is totally awesome.”“All these people are coming to respect and show respect and honor Heath Calhoun,” a volunteer added.

Heath Calhoun redefines the meaning of service.

“Not only did he serve overseas, but he competed in the Olympics for us,” biker Huey O'Dell said. “It's a great thing.”

Showing up is their way to return the favor. Calhoun had both of his legs amputated above the knee after an explosion while serving in Iraq in 2003. He tried skiing as part of his recovery.

“Being in a wheelchair, it was something that got me out and made me feel free again,” Calhoun said. “Just to be able to do that was enough for me.”He kept going all the way to Russia. 

He won a silver medal in the super combined during the Paralympic Winter Games.

“To be able to go to Sochi to compete kind of gave me closure after being a soldier, losing my legs, kind of being pushed out of the military because you know I couldn't do my job anymore to being able to still serve my country and represent and come home with a medal was huge for me.”

That’s why hundreds showed up at the airport for a commemorative ride to welcome home a hero.

“It's a humbling experience,” Calhoun said. “I mean it really is.” 

Calhoun now has a silver medal and a Purple Heart. He's part of the Wounded Warriors Project and spends a lot of his time meeting and advocating for other wounded veterans. In addition to skiing he also enjoys golfing, swimming and running.

Email: acline-thomas@newschannel5.com