SOUTH MILWAUKEE -- After a debilitating motorcycle crash, almost a year to the day it happened, a war hero is finally home for good. Supporters, volunteers and family members retrofitted his South Milwaukee home to accommodate his needs. He was welcomed home in a very special way on Wednesday, July 19th.
They brought chairs and signs, almost as though they were awaiting the start of a parade, and with the police escort, it kind of was. It was a small, neighborhood parade, honoring Gary Wetzel.
Most of the cyclists on hand were veterans, on hand to honor what some would call a super vet.
On Wednesday, Wetzel, a Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, who is also a strong advocate for veterans' and community issues saw the upgrades made to his home for the first time.
"I'm gonna go up on the ramp. I'm going to sit down. I'm going to put my blinders on because I don't what to see my home until I get inside, so give me a minute here, folks," Wetzel said.
On August 7th, 2016, Wetzel was suffered serious injuries, including a broken pelvis, in a motorcycle accident while he was on his way to South Dakota to receive the 2016 Freedom Fighter Award.
At his South Milwaukee home, doorways and walkways were widened to accommodate his wheelchair.
"Big difference. It is a big difference," Susan Simko, Wetzel's sister said of his home.
Wetzel's wife, Kathy said she's pleased with the transformation of the home, and her husband's reaction.
"I'm sure he's still in a state of shock. I don't think he quite realizes what's happening," Kathy Wetzel said.
When asked if he plans on getting back on the bike, Wetzel said "you betcha! I'm not done riding yet."
Wetzel thanked the contractor and everyone else involved in his home makeover. He was overwhelmed by everything, including the parade. He put it like this: "My heart was bigger than my body."