It was a mixture of emotions at Rejoice Worship Center when Lance Cpl. Sean Adams spoke at his home church.
The 20-year-old U.S. Marine stood in front of the congregation, a feat that was unimaginable not too long ago.
“Seeing this boy come from skin and bones back to his normal size, getting to see him walk, there’s nothing else you can ask for,” said his brother, Curtis Adams. “I got to see him walk when he was a baby, when he first took his steps. Getting to see him do it again may be a little bit better.”
Sean Adams was leading a patrol in Afghanistan in February 2012 when he stepped on a homemade explosive device.
“I flew up in the air and I hit the ground,” he said. His first thought, he said, was that the explosion had affected members on his team.
“I went to get up and I couldn’t move,” he said. “I felt like somebody had hit me in the back, and I couldn’t feel the lower part of my body. Right then, I knew. I said to myself ‘Oh God, I just changed my life forever.’”
He was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He lost both legs in the incident, and uses both a wheelchair and prosthetic legs to move around.
Adams’ retirement ceremony took place in Bethesda last week; he arrived at his parents’ house Saturday evening to speak at their church Sunday morning.
“(It was) very emotional because I’ve heard the story, but I’ve never heard it in depth, completely,” said his mother, Tina Adams. “Just to hear what he went through was bad.”
Bill Kokaly, field representative for U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, presented Sean Adams with a U.S. flag.
“This flag was flown in recognition of your honorable service and sacrifice for the people of the United States of America, and is presented in observance of your retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps,” Kokaly said.
Also at Sunday’s service was Ron Johnson, second vice chairman of the Georgia Republican Party and chairman of its veterans outreach group. The group is donating sports wheelchairs to injured veterans, and Johnson offered one to Adams.
“He can pick out anyone he wants,” Johnson said.
“I want to welcome you home,” he added. Johnson, a veteran himself, choked back tears. “I can’t thank you enough for picking up the tradition.”
Adams will return to Walter Reed this week for extra therapy and will be officially retired and back in Hall County permanently on Oct. 31. He said he then plans to study automotive technology at Lanier Technical College.
Adams, a 2011 Chestatee High graduate, said it was especially moving to speak in front of his family and friends at church.
“At times, it’s hard up there to have the four walls coming around you and the phone don’t ring at times,” Adams said, explaining he sometimes felt he would be forgotten. “It’s good to know you’re not forgotten about, and your service is not in vain.”