Though hundreds of people came out to greet Corporal Garrett Carnes -- who lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan -- one heartfelt embrace from a mystery marine made him feel like he had truly returned home.
"I wanted to find him, and just tell him ‘thank you brother’," Carnes told WSOCTV of the meaningful encounter. "That meant the world to me, for him to come out there and do that."
But later on, when Carnes went to look for the serviceman who had joined the homecoming celebration on Friday in Mooresville, N.C., he was nowhere to be found.
Carnes immediately turned to Facebook and within 24 hours he found Lance Corporal Aaron Means.
Means had taken the day off from work and drove more than four hours to properly salute Carnes, who was severely injured by an improvised explosive device and has a year of rehab ahead of him at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, according to KPLCTV.
The devoted Marine told WSOCTV that when he had heard of Carnes -- not just of his trials and resilience, but of the 22-year-old’s sense of humor and love of life -- he felt compelled to honor the wounded warrior.
"That struck me as being motivating," Means said, "in that no matter whatever the enemy threw at him, no matter what it did to him it's not gonna stop him from being who he is."
Feeling inspired? Learn how you can involved with injured veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project, here.