Elkhart — U.S. Army Sgt. Aaron Yoder will be flown to South Bend on Saturday after two months of treatment at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.
Yoder is still recovering from a gunshot wound he suffered on April 9 while deployed in Afghanistan. Yoder, a specialized dog handler, was shot in the leg while trying to protect his dog, Bart.
He was flown to Texas a few days after he was shot and required several surgeries to his leg, said Mandy Green, Yoder's sister. Yoder was to stay at Fort Sam Houston for about six months, but he is being “given a break” to go home with his family, Green said.
Though Yoder continues to recover — he was able to walk for the first time since the injury on Monday — he still has some pain and limited mobility in his leg, said Dave Yoder, Aaron's father.
Aaron is using a boot that helps him by taking the strain off his leg, Dave said.
“He was really excited last night that he was able to walk on his own for the first since he was shot,” he said.
While Dave is optimistic about his son's recuperation, he said it is possible Aaron will battle with his injury for a long time.
“I think he's strong enough, both physically and mentally to handle it,” he said. “I think that he's going to come through this but I also think that all of his life he's going to experience some problems.”
Dave and his wife, Dawn, visited Aaron while he was hospitalized in Fort Sam Houston.
Since Aaron was brought back to the U.S., Dave said there has been more moral support from various individuals and organizations.
“It was incredible,” he said. “It was just an outpouring of support from people who just thanked us for having a son who was a hero, and it was humbling.”
Bart was not injured during the shooting, and was able to visit Aaron on May 3. Bart was then taken to Fort Polk, Aaron's home base, to continue his training.
A 2005 Concord High School graduate, Yoder joined the Army in 2006. He was deployed in Germany from 2007 to 2009, and later in 2009 he was deployed to Iraq.
In November 2011, Yoder was sent to Afghanistan to train to become a specialized dog handler.
After all of Aaron's active service, Dave said the family is looking forward to spending time with him.
“We know that he needs just to come home and just rest and recoup,” he said.