Crossville prepares to welcome Marine who lost legs in combat

Crossville prepares to welcome Marine who lost legs in combat

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It took Matthew 18 months to take his first steps, which happened just weeks before Hancock took his first steps on his prosthetic limbs in October 2011. It took Matthew 18 months to take his first steps, which happened just weeks before Hancock took his first steps on his prosthetic limbs in October 2011.
Hancock's mother-in-law Kimberly Russo started to organize a homecoming event for Hancock after learning he wanted to return home for a wedding. Hancock's mother-in-law Kimberly Russo started to organize a homecoming event for Hancock after learning he wanted to return home for a wedding.
During his inpatient stay, Hancock endured more than 50 surgeries. During his inpatient stay, Hancock endured more than 50 surgeries.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

CROSSVILLE (WATE) - Crossville residents are preparing to welcome home a U.S. Marine who has spent the last two years recovering from life-changing combat injuries. 

Nearly two years ago, Marine Sgt. Christopher Hancock lost both his legs when an improvised bomb, or IED, exploded in Afghanistan. 

Since then, he's remained on active duty as he continues rehabilitation.  

Hancock is coming home to Crossville Monday with his wife, Danielle, and three-year-old son Matthew.

The family has lived with Hancock at the Camp Lejeune base in North Carolina since 2012.

It will be Sgt. Hancock's first trip home after losing both his legs in the explosion.  

Hancock's mother-in-law, Kimberly Russo, started to organize a homecoming event for Hancock after learning he wanted to return home for a wedding.

All-volunteer organization Veterans Airlift Command has offered to fly the family to Crossville. 

Russo says the community has shown a large deal of support since the event was announced. 

The Cumberland County Medical Center has donated a wheelchair for Hancock to use during his visit. The family will stay in a hotel, paid for by the First National Bank of Crossville.  

Russo anticipates friends and family will show up from as far as Michigan.  

"It's just taken on a life of its own, and I'm just so proud to see what's going to be there when they land," said Russo.  

In June 2011, Hancock encountered an IED during a routine foot patrol trying to disrupt enemy activity in Sangin Valley in Afghanistan.

Hancock, a 2005 Cumberland County High School graduate, says he can now walk without the aid of any walkers or canes.

Recovery has been a long process. It took two months of rehab at the Walter Reed National Naval Medical Center in Washington before he could walk.  During his inpatient stay, Hancock endured more than 50 surgeries.  

"It was definitely an alarming experience in the earlier days. As time progressed in the past two years, I look to wife and my family for support and everything," said Hancock.

Months before the explosion, during his first tour in Afghanistan, Hancock left behind a pregnant bride to go fight in America's longest war.

His six-month stint was cut a couple of weeks short when his son was born 11 weeks premature.

Matthew suffered a grade 4 intraventricular hemorrhage and was in the neonatal intensive care unit for 67 days at San Diego Naval Medical Center. 

His brain hemorrhage was severe and left him with left-side-affected Cerebral Palsy.

Russo says she spent months staying in San Diego while Matthew was in intensive care.

"She had a husband in a wheelchair not walking, and a little boy in a stroller not walking, and there was no way for her to do it herself," said Russo.  

It took Matthew 18 months to take his first steps, which happened just weeks before Hancock took his first steps on his prosthetic limbs in October 2011.

"Once he started walking, I wanted to chase after him," said Hancock. 

Matthew is now responding well to daily physical and occupational therapy, according to Hancock.

Hancock says he's been feeling nervous upon going back home, but says the feeling should fade fast.  

"I think once I'm actually there, I'll be super excited. I can't wait to see everyone there," said Hancock.  

Russo is trying to raise funds in order to re-modify her basement to accommodate her son-in-law.  

She worries the family may have to move back to her home if Hancock doesn't receive an extension to remain an active duty marine. 

Hancock is petitioning to extend his term, which is up in September.

The family will be in Crossville for the July 4th holiday and will head back to Camp Lejeune the following day.

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