There was a hero's welcome for a Cicero-North Syracuse High School graduate who was severely injured as a soldier in Afghanistan. YNN's Erin Clarke was there when Private First Class Matthew Leyva landed.
MATTYDALE, N.Y. -- It's easy to see why so many people care about Private First Class Matthew Leyva.
He's a man of few words, but when he speaks, they're mostly jokes. That sense of humor has helped the 22-year-old through losing both legs and part of his hands after an improvised explosive device blast in Afghanistan last August.
"We're pretending to put legs on him with sweatpants and stuff and everyone is cracking up, so he's really funny and it's definitely helped him out a lot," said Matthew's sister, Ashley Sochia.
"Maybe his looks, but he hasn't changed at all. Trust me. His attitude is the same. Just like he was before," said Matthew's wife, Raelynn Leyva.
And now he plans to use that resilient spirit to help other wounded soldiers get back in the swing of things.
"Going from the hospital to transitioning out of the hospital, because it's totally different. You don't have the nurses around all the time. Matthew knows about all that stuff and so he goes in and talks to guys that are just coming out of the hospital and lifts their spirits," said Matthew's mother, Rene Sochia.
Matthew still has a long way to go himself. He's still undergoing treatment and physical therapy in Texas. This is the first time he's come home since being injured.
The next stop for Matthew is home for a week and then it's back to Texas. He will return in August to renew his vows.
Matthew and his wife, Raelynn, plan to renew their vows on August 11th, two days after the year anniversary of his injury, what he calls his live day.