For reunited soldiers, a strengthened bond

SEA-TAC AIRPORT -- It's been a long journey home for a wounded Stryker soldier.

Spc. Christopher Anderson lost a leg in Afghanistan seven months ago and has been hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center near Washington, D.C.

When the Problem Solvers got word he was flying home to see his fellow Strykers, we wanted to make sure it was a hero's welcome.

We started with Alaska Airlines, who quickly upgraded Specialist Anderson and his wife, Army Specialist Jasmine Anderson, to first class.

The next call was to the USO, who pulled together an amazing surprise.

It started at the gate. When the Andersons stepped out of the jetway, strangers had gathered to applaud. Both seemed stunned, wiping tears from their eyes.

Chris and Jasmine deployed to Afghanistan with the 2nd Stryker Brigade in April. Two months later, Chris stepped on an IED.

"It felt like something picked me up in the air, and I was just waiting to get down, so I tucked my arms in," he said. "When I landed on the ground, I looked around and my lower body started getting hot. So I looked down at my legs and ... I just yelled out, 'My legs!'"

His right leg was heavily damaged. His left leg had to be amputated. Chris is now undergoing rigorous physical therapy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. But when the rest of his company made it home safely, he decided to visit.

"Only like three of them know I'm coming. But I want to surprise the company at my battalion," he said.

First, we had a surprise for him. No one can throw a welcome home quite like the USO.

The Andersons walked out of the secure area of the terminal to see a giant banner, flags and dozens of USO volunteers calling out, "Welcome home!"

Chris walked down the line, hugging and shaking hands. There were other veterans there.

"Thank you for your service," said Chris to the fellow veterans.

While Chris was clearly moved, the biggest surprise was yet to come. Those soldiers in his company he planned to surprise?About 40 of them were gathered in a reception room.

Chris stepped in the room looking bewildered. When he saw them, they yelled out a cheer. He dropped his cane and his eyes filled with tears.

Someone called out, "Go get him!" and he was surrounded in an instant. One by one, they embraced.

"It was amazing, honestly. Anderson was extremely close to me," said Spc. Nicholas Bartolus, "Very good friend of mine, and seeing him here in the states with me also, it brings a lot of joy to my heart and everyone else here."

"I think on a scale of 1 to ten, it was beyond a ten, I must say," said Chris's wife, who was in on the surprise. "I could see that he was tearing up wanting to cry but men and their pride, they try to hold it back. I think he was very excited."

The Infantrymen share their war stories of service and sacrifice. And they share the joy of returning home safely.

"It's a big relief off my shoulders knowing that he's good, and we're all back here doing good, too," said Spc. Shane Ryan.