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Friends and Supporters Celebrate Wounded Vet's Homecoming

Hundreds of well-wishers offer their support to SFC Derek McConnell

Green Hill Avenue in Parsippany is usually a quiet street. But traffic filled the area Sunday as hundreds turned out to a homecoming party for a man they call a hero: SFC Derek McConnell. 

McConnell lost both his legs and part of his arm while trying to rescue his fellow soldiers in Afghanistan in July 2011. After a long recovery and rehabilitation period at Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, Md., he is now back at home with his family in Parsippany.

Among the many friends, family and neighbors who came to give their thanks and show their support for McConnell were Freeholder Hank Lyon, Mayor James Barberio, Caldwell Mayor Joe Alessi, Asw. BettyLou DeCroce, state Sen. Joseph Pennacchio and U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen. Also at the gathering were members of veterans groups the Band of Brothers, Warriors' Watch and the Marine Corps League. 

Jim Vigilante September 24, 2012 at 12:45 PM
Derek, When you arrived on the Med Evac Helicopter at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan last July; not knowing who you were, we said a prayer like we did for every Veteran that came through there. I wanted to publicly thank God for answering those prayers. You were in bad shape due to the injuries you sustained protecting our freedoms. You looked great yesterday and I was very Proud and Honored to meet you and your family yesterday. Your limitations will only be limited by your mind; I worked with a few Veterans with Prosthetics at Balboa Hospital Navy Medical Center in San Diego and their motivation and drive taught me to reflect on my own limitations. A lot of doors and opportunities are about to open for you, be prepared to accept them and move forward with your life. Being a First Sergeant is the best job in the military because of folks like you. Godspeed on your recovery and God Bless You for making the sacrifices you did. If there is anything I can ever do for you and your family do not hesitate to ask. MSgt. "V" James J. Vigilante First Sergeant 514th AMDS Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst 973-332-4637 (cell) jvigilante@nac.net Everyone dies, but not everyone lives. Just because you live, doesn't mean you are alive. It's your life; live it and make it come alive!!!
steve revette September 24, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Great words Jim. Very great words.
Monica Sclafani September 24, 2012 at 02:41 PM
... and thank you, Jimmy, for all that you do! God Bless!
Kean09 September 24, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Thank you to all who serve..
Beth Bluj September 24, 2012 at 06:49 PM
God Bless you Derek and may he continue to watch over you and all of our veterans as they recover. Thank you for your service.
patchitup1 September 25, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Welcome home and thank you for all you have done! God bless you and your family

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