SOUTH BEND – A week after a local soldier was injured in Afghanistan, his parents are seeing their son for the first time since he was shot.
Sgt. Aaron Yoder, 25, from Elkhart was shot in the leg early last week. A K-9 handler, he was on patrol with his bomb sniffing dog Bart when he was shot.
"To get that phone call – it's tough," said Aaron’s mother, Dawn, just before boarding a plane at the South Bend Regional Airport, headed for Fort Sam Houston in Texas. "It's been a long five months, and for him being over there, I just can't wait to love on him, just hold him."
Aaron has a dangerous job. He and Bart search for IEDs. That's exactly what they were doing when Aaron was shot.
Bart wasn't hurt, but the Yoders believe the dog was the intended target for that bullet.
"Bart's there to protect our men and women, and they're there for Bart, too," said Aaron’s father, Dave.
For the Yoders, the community has come together to support them. A group of school children even wrote around 200 letters for their son.
Armed with those letters and prayers, the two parents are just ready to get to their child.
"I'll probably cry," Dawn said. "I know there are going to be a lot of tears. I'll say 'babe, you're my hero, you're everybody's hero.'"
Aaron is a 2005 graduate of Concord High School.
He has already had four surgeries on his leg. His parents have been told to expect four to five more in the coming weeks. Yoder isn't expected to be able to walk for at least three months.
The Yoders say the dog Bart will be heading back to the US to be with Aaron during his recovery.
A Facebook page following Sgt. Yoder's progress can be found by clicking here.
To send Sgt. Yoder letters or care packages, address them to:
Army Liaison Office
Attention: Aaron Yoder
3851 Roger Brook Drive
Bldg 3600, Room 113-10
Ft. Sam Houston, TX 78234