Almost 2 years and over 100 surgeries later, Sgt. Adam Keys returned home to Whitehall Township, Pennsylvania yesterday. He lost three limbs when his vehicle was struck by an IED in southern Afghanistan in July of 2010.
Four other soldiers in his vehicle, including Spc. Jesse Reed, also from Whitehall, were killed in the explosion. Reed was practically a brother to Keys. They had been buddies since their days at Whitehall High School, where they graduated in 2002 and dreamed about joining the Army.
In Bethlehem, Keys shook hands and exchanged greetings with just about everyone there. Most were complete strangers. Some were veterans themselves. They bent over, hugged him and thanked him for his service.
"Thank everybody for coming to welcome me back," Keys told the crowd, who responded with a mix of applause, cheers and tears.
The soldier fought back tears of his own as he talked about the long road back to Whitehall. With his mother, Julie Keys, plus Reed's mother and two young sons nearby, Adam Keys said, "The support I've gotten from the Lehigh Valley, it has helped tremendously."
Keys, who nearly died and has undergone countless surgeries, said daily phone calls and greeting cards he received from well wishers motivated him to keep moving forward.
"I'm not going to let anybody down," he promised the crowd.
Quoting the Soldier's Creed, Keys said, "I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade."
Keys no longer has a home in the Lehigh Valley. His mother has rented out their old house in Whitehall while staying with him Bethesda to aid in his recovery.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation are prepared to build Keys a home whenever and wherever he chooses.
Welcome home, Sgt. Keys.