MILWAUKIE, Ore. -- A wounded soldier arrived home in Milwaukie on Thursday night for the first time since he was almost killed in Afghanistan two years ago.
The community is making sure Alex Hussey's homecoming won't pass quietly.
Hussey’s mom, Caree Doll, said her son is tired from the drive up from Southern California. He’s also excited for the weekend.
When he shows up to the VFW post in Southeast Portland on Saturday afternoon, he’ll be greeted with a hero's tribute and benefit. The man who planned it once inspired Hussey, and says Hussey now inspires him.
Ken Buckles is a human encyclopedia of history. His office at his home in Canby is a mini-military museum.
"The casualties aren't just the ones who don't come home,” Buckles said.
Nearly 20 years ago, Buckle started a nonprofit called Remembering America's Heroes.
Buckle’s mission is as simple as his organization's title, even though he has no military background himself.
When asked why he gives back to veterans, he said, “I guess it's the guilt I feel that I never did serve and I got to pursue my dream. I got to play college football. I got to be a PE teacher.”
That's how he met Alex Hussey. Buckle was Hussey’s PE teacher at Milwaukie High School a few years ago.
"He was a great young man, very respectful, very hard worker, loved being in the Army,” Buckle said.
Hussey enlisted in the Army after he graduated in 2010.
Two years later, on his first deployment to Afghanistan, he was hit by an IED. He lost both legs, and most of his left arm.
"He has to go back for rehab and he's got a long road ahead of him still,” Buckle explained.
Buckle knows all too well what that road is like. His father fought in Korea and suffered from PTSD.
"He took his life and he was only 54 years old,” Buckle said.
That lost life is something Buckle thinks about as he helps other soldiers like Hussey.
"He owes $20,000 on a brand-new wheel accessible truck. The VA put $20,000 down. Veterans' organizations in Southern California raised $10,000, and I set a goal of paying off the $20,000 dollars,” Buckle explained.
So far, Remembering America's Heroes has received a few thousand dollars that will go to Hussey's truck fund. Buckle wants to reach that goal at his high school reunion, coming up on Saturday. Like Hussey, Buckle is also alumnus of Milwaukie High School (class of 1972). He’s turned the reunion into a benefit for Hussey.
The event starts at 5 p.m. on Saturday. It’s being held at VFW Post 4248, located at 7118 S.E. Fern Avenue in Portland. There will be food, music, and a tribute to Hussey. The public is invited.
Buckle said the tribute kicks off with a police escort bringing Hussey to the post.
You can find more information about the benefit on this Facebook Page.