It was a day of excitement and anticipation as Pfc. Caleb Redell, 22, returned home to a hero’s welcome in Erie on Wednesday. As fire and rescue vehicles ushered him through the town, residents lined the streets, waved flags and cheered, grateful to have him home.
“We were just talking about how we’re thankful that he’s even been able to make it home, just that he’s still alive and here,” said Jenny Redell, 23, Caleb’s cousin, who had not seen him in over three years.
Caleb, who was wounded on Feb. 21 in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle, stated that he was shocked at the turnout.
“It’s nice to see everybody out here,” he told gathered reporters from the passenger seat of a Mustang convertible. “It’s good to be back.”
Caleb will only be in Erie for two weeks before returning to Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, stated his mother, Elise Redell.
“His unit is coming home, so that’s part of the reason he came back now,” said Elise. “I’m just excited that he can even just get away from the hospital. And he’s excited. He’s real excited to see his unit come home.”
When he returns to Texas, Caleb will resume rehabilitation for the multiple injuries he sustained. His injuries included a broken jaw on both sides, a broken vertebrae in his neck and two in his back, a broken right arm and right elbow, a broken femur and a crushed ankle. In addition, his sacrum and his tailbone were pulled away from his spine.
“It was pretty much all on his right side, because he was driving the vehicle, so he got it on the right side,” stated Elise.
“I remember going out,” Caleb said of the day he was injured. “There’s about probably a two- or three-hour gap that everything’s kinda blank, but other than that I remember pretty much everything.”
Elise indicated that Caleb’s recovery process has been going well.
“It’s been really good, considering. Everything is pretty much healed up except for his ankle and his foot. And we’re hoping to get more good news about that, later on in the month when he gets back (to Texas).”
Caleb is estimating that he’ll have six more months of recovery time, and plenty to think about as he contemplates the future.
“Hopefully I can get back to where I was,” he stated. “They do a very good job down there (at Brooke Army Medical Center). Even in the last couple years, they’ve made a lot of improvements. It’s really amazing to go down there and see everything they can do for people.”
In the meantime, Caleb’s family will enjoy having him home, including his 3-year-old daughter, Grace.
“She’s only seen him once in a year,” Elise said of Grace. “So she’s very excited to have him home for a few days.”