Wounded Air Force sergeant gets hero's welcome

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -  Family and friends gave Sgt. David Flowers a hero's homecoming on Monday.

The Hancock County man lost a leg when he stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan earlier this year. He made it home for the holidays and received a very special reception at Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport.

Despite his severe injuries, Sgt. Flowers is not only in good spirits about his own recovery, he's reaching out to other injured soldiers.

They gathered at the airport Monday morning with flags and signs and anxious hearts. Those who know and love David Flowers have been counting down the days.

"Our whole family and his in laws, all of us, we've been so excited. We just can't keep our excitement in check," said his mother, Bobbie Stanic.

Stacy Campbell and daughter Addy were among the homecoming crew.

"We went to high school together. Graduated together. He's a wonderful person and I'm just happy he's home," she said.

"He was the class president and I was the vice president," said Mark Garcia. "We had a lot of fun together. Just a great, outgoing guy. Great personality. All around good guy."

The Patriot Guard Riders joined the homecoming.

"We're an organization that honors the military in any way we can," Mike Oliver said. "This staff sergeant has given a lot for his country and the fight for freedom. And we're here to meet him and congratulate him and welcome him home to his hometown."

A somewhat surprised Sgt. Flowers arrived to a chorus of cheers and multiple hugs. His grandmother was among the first to welcome him home.  She's been to Washington twice to visit him at Walter Reed.

"He has never felt bad about it. He said this was dealt to me and we're going to live by it," said Ursula Slebodnik.

"Things are going really good," Sgt. David Flowers said. "I started walking quite a bit. I'm getting around as best I can. I started playing golf this past week again, standing up instead of having to sit down and play from a chair."

Sgt. Flowers is not only upbeat about his own recovery, he's reaching out to other wounded soldiers. He founded an organization called "Wii's for Warriors" after discovering the physical therapy benefits of the Wii Fitness game.

"We're just providing them with a Wii system that they can use in their room during their recovery, whenever they don't feel well enough to go to physical therapy," he said.

Friends are not surprised at his generosity.

"He has a heart that just keeps giving," Stacy Campbell said.

Sgt. Flowers said he has vivid memories of stepping on the land mine and seeing his foot get blown off. He credits the quick response by two fellow servicemen for saving his life.

By the way, during his holiday break, he's hoping to play a little golf in Diamondhead.

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