Homecoming for a hero: Wounded veteran arrives back in Charlotte

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A wounded veteran is reunited with his family, after 119 surgeries and an extended hospital stay, just in time for the holidays. Hundreds of neighbors in Providence Downs section of Charlotte to welcome Mike Verardo home on Friday night.

“Seeing a mass of American flags, and the pulling onto our street, it just means everything,” said Verardo.

While deployed in Afghanistan, Verardo’s vehicle was hit by an I.E.D. He was ejected out about thirty feet, knocked unconscious and sustained injuries that required medical evacuation to Kandahar. In the hospital, Mike was given the choice to go home to the U.S. or back with his unit (Army 82nd Airborne.) Verardo chose to go back with his team. Then, another IED went off under him, and immediately blew off his left leg and much of his left arm.

“He has been recovering for the last 8 years,” said his wife Sarah. “This was his 119th surgery post Afghanistan.”

Her friends organized the big surprise. Verardo’s escort included a secret service motorcade, the military honor guard, local marines, and the Waxhaw Fire Department, as a couple hundred neighbors lined the street.

“I was expecting a couple people but it is amazing and truly a beautiful sight to see,” said Michael Volker.

Sirens signaled an early Christmas present for his three little girls, all under five years old.

“My oldest asked Santa to bring daddy home,” said Sarah as she choked back tears. “I feel like every veteran should feel this level of appreciation it’s so special.”