Sgt. Drew Mullee stepped into a nightmare.
"There was a loud noise and I did what felt like a back flip in the air," he described.
Drew was critically injured, and his right leg had to be amputated. He spent the last eight months at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
While his recovery isn't done, he also has unfinished business at Joint Base Lewis McChord. He flew here Wednesday to welcome his fellow soldiers home.
"The Army, you really have a bond with the people," Sgt. Mullee said. "You fight with them. The one thing I've been waiting for since the 12th of May was to get back here and see them."
He doesn't know they have already gathered, ready to welcome him home. Sgt. Christopher Flores was a team leader with Drew. "I'm excited. I'm so glad he's alright and I'm just super excited to see him," he said.
Drew walked out to cheers. Dozens of soldiers from his company gathered outside the airfield where he landed to surprise him.
"You gotta be kidding me," he said as he spotted them.
The last time they saw Drew, he couldn't walk. Now he can stride effortlessly to see his men, his platoon mates, his friends.
One by one, he shakes hands and hugs the men, until finally they all push in for a group hug.
It is a relief for all of them to be home safe, back with family.
For Drew, that includes a 3-month-old son, Easton and his wife Jennifer.
"We look at it that he would have missed all this," Jennifer said. "If he wasn't injured and was deployed, he would have just been getting home this week. So he's gotten to see Easton be born and all the milestones he's made."
Drew plans to retire from the Army, but the men he deployed with will also always be family.
"We're all here for him. Just like we were then, just like we're gonna be. We're here for him," said Sgt. Flores.