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Wounded Marine Arrives Home

Hundreds turn out at airport, in Huntington to cheer James Byler's return.

Marine 1st Lt. James Byler arrived home Thursday, met at MacArthur Airport by hundreds of friends and relatives, a Marine Corps honor guard and local dignitaries.

 Byler, 25, was injured while on patrol with his unit in Afghanistan in October. He lost both legs and a finger on each hand after stepping on a land mine and is being treated at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

"James has made all of us in Suffolk proud. We are proud of his dedication," said who presented a proclamation to Byler in a ceremony at the general aviation terminal. "We are a better county and country because of his service. We need more men like you."

of Huntington and representatives from the Town of Islip and U.S. Rep. Steve Israel's office were also on hand to welcome him.  Byler, a graduate of , thanked everyone for their support and said it was good to come home.

As Byler started toward the exit he was visibly surprised to enter a hallway lined by a cheering crowd of well-wishers, including members of the Patriot Guard Riders, Boy Scouts, veterans, neighbors and friends. They held welcome signs and flags and his alma mater's band played.

"We are so glad he is home," said Kimmy Schneider of Huntington, one of the crowd who was there with friends Maggie Lombardo and Allie Fulton.  Schneider said they knew Byler through their church, . "He is a good friend of mine and we came to welcome him home and we missed him! We're so proud of him and he is a hero."

The evening had turned dark, blustery and cold, but that didn't deter the crowd from pressing forward to catch a glimpse of Byler as he and his family made their way to a waiting limo.

"That is a true American hero," said Tim Scherer, a local resident who was there with his daughters Katie and Meghin.  "We are honored to have him home." Scherer's son, Marine Corps Cpl. Christopher G. Scherer, was killed in action July 21, 2007 in Iraq. 

In Huntington, crowds lined the road as the limousine carrying the Marine sped past. Dozens of fire fighters from Northport, Huntington Manor and fire departments, who had hung huge American flags over the road in an arch, formed up as numerous police cars accompanied the limousine.  Children waving American flags and signs welcoming him home were everywhere.

Byler's mother, Janet, is a teacher at , where the school's National Honor Society recently sponsored a basketball tournament to support his family.

dianne tritschler December 23, 2010 at 10:01 PM
God bless you ! Thank you ! You have given an ultimate sacrafice and now we need to be there for you WELCOME HOME
Doris December 24, 2010 at 01:17 AM
May all your deeds be brought back to you. Thank you for all you do.
Wilfred Hull December 24, 2010 at 05:39 PM
James you are, and will remain an hero in the hearts of all your family. May God bless you and work with you in the future. Merry Christmas.
Greg Lashutka December 24, 2010 at 09:47 PM
James, I heard about you from your uncle Don Sharpe. We were pheasant hunting in South Dakota and one thing led to another and your and your story were shared. I am the father of a Marine 2nd LT who is preparing for deployment at Quantico and served myself as an EOD specialist. We are all proud of you and thank you for your service. Merry Christmas! Greg Lashutka
Andrew Miltenberg December 25, 2010 at 05:22 AM
James - you look fantastic and you are an absolute inspiration to us all. Your dad is so proud of you and your spirit serves as a lesson as to all that is good and strong in this country. The Miltenberg Family Andrew, Jennifer Ava, Jacob, Isabel and Rexi the Dog
Brenda Waddell December 26, 2010 at 02:54 AM
James, Your story has touched our hearts through our wonderful neighbors, Don and Patti. We share the most beautiful little piece of land in Ohio with them. May you and your family find comfort and joy this Holiday season. Thanks for serving! Rocky and Brenda
Cindy Hannon December 26, 2010 at 08:30 PM
God bless you James. Thank you for your dedication and honor. I am sure your family are equally proud of you. May He grant all of you His peace and joy. You are a blessing to us in this nation. The Hannon Family
Marty Johnson December 26, 2010 at 11:17 PM
You are one fantastic fellow. A group of us here in North Carolina (and friends in Arkansas, too) have been following you in our thoughts and prayers, grateful for frequent updates from our friends Pastor Dave Aldridge and his wife Sarah, at Central Presbyterian Church. What a wonderful hometown welcome! Wish we could have been there! Thank you again for your service to our country and your inspiring example of courage, fortitude, and perseverance. We are humbled by your spirit and your accomplishments. The Johnsons
John Fox December 26, 2010 at 11:30 PM
I want to thank all the well-wishers, who showed up at the airport and the Big H shopping center for making LT JAMES BYLER Christmas home coming a success. Thank you and Merry Christmas to everyone, JOHN F. FOX Commander 2008 – 2009 Veterans of Foreign Wars Suffolk County Council Home Phone: (631) 261-5879 Email: LoneOak34@hotmail.com
Kelly Campbell December 27, 2010 at 12:39 AM
I ditto that, John. It's people like James who, to me, really drive home the meaning of Christmas.
Mark Palmer December 28, 2010 at 07:25 PM
James. I am one of MANY at Bexley UMC who know you, love you, and are thinking of you. Your sacrifice for US will NEVER be forgotten!!! We look forward to having you come to Bexley for a visit. You are an inspiration to ALL!!! Mark Palmer (give your mom a hug from me)
kevin cleary February 18, 2011 at 03:50 PM
Kevin Cleary Attended the fundraiser last night,( 2/17 ), a lot of old Marines have your back. Semper fi brother.
S Johnson April 26, 2011 at 08:40 PM
Thank you for your service to our country. I saw an article about your injury and rehabilitation process in the Los Angeles Times recently. I am compelled to write to you to express my appreciation for your service and tell you how sorry I am for your injury. My best wishes to you and your family during this long process. But I am confident that warrior like you will succeed in any endeavors.

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