Hundreds welcome home wounded Florence County Marine

LONG LAKE – Family and friends of a wounded Marine welcomed him home Saturday.

It’s been a while since some have seen Marine Corporal Randy Smith.

“About a year, a little over a year now. I haven’t seen him since he was hurt so we’re anxious to see him,” said Sherry McCraw, Smith’s aunt.

“We’re proud of him,” said Skip Ritchie.

Smith was in Afghanistan last August. He left base, and while riding in a truck, a roadside bomb was detonated.

The 80,000 pound truck Smith was riding in was thrown about 60 yards.

He could’ve died that day.

“He very well could’ve not come home. I can’t even say what it means to me. He’s my life,” said his mom Sheila Smith.

Smith suffers from a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and injuries to his shoulder, hip and knee.

“He was in Afghanistan for a while and wasn’t improving so they brought him to Germany and then finally brought him back to the states,” said Dawn Hepler, Smith’s aunt.

As the crowd waits, 10 minutes passes. Then someone in the crowd yells, “They’re going to be here in about five minutes.”

As lights shine in the distance, a firetruck carrying Smith pulls up to the Long Lake Town Hall. He’s finally home.

Family and friends welcome him with smiles and hugs.

“A small town like this, I was not expecting this many people. It’s amazing that they all got this together for me,” said Cpl. Randy Smith.

Smith says he’s happy to be home and he wants to spend as much time as he can with the people he loves.

Two weeks ago Cpl. Smith was awarded the Purple Heart for his service in Afghanistan.

He says it’s an honor he will never forget.

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