McMURRAY (KDKA) — There was a hero’s welcome Saturday afternoon for an injured Marine who is now finally back home.
They lined the street and parking lot outside the VFW in McMurray awaiting the arrival of Marine Sgt. Doug Vitale. And what a welcome it was.
It was shortly before noon at Allegheny County Airport when Sgt. Vitale finally came home.
“First time home since Christmas 2010, landed here and he’s smiling out the window,” said Dale Vitale, Doug’s father.
But it is been anything but smiles since Sept. 25, 2011. That’s when Sgt. Vitale, a young United States Marine, suffered catastrophic injuries from an enemy IED. It would lead to two years of painful rehab.
At his homecoming ceremony, Sgt. Vitale would see a police escort at the front of his motorcade and at the rear, but at his side – as she has been from the start – his amazing wife, Alexis.
“This is what a marriage is,” said Alexis. “This is what you do; you don’t run away when things get rough.”
Sgt. Vitale’s return involved to stop at the VFW Post 764 in Peters Township.
It had pomp and ceremony, but most of all, it had Sgt. Vitale and Alexis and their family. It also had an appeal to help raise money for the smart home that Sgt. Vitale and his wife soon hope to occupy.
So far some $98,000 has been raised.
“I’m just grateful for the blessings that we have had in this hard time,” said Alexis.
This week will be a busy one for both Sgt. Vitale and Alexis, not only are they going to Steelers Training Camp, but the Pirates will be hosting them, too.
Then, on Friday, the Lt. Dan Band will be playing at Stage AE on the North Shore. All the proceeds from that concert will be going to Sgt. Vitale and Alexis and their smart home.