• Spc. Chris Anderson hugs a fellow Soldier from the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Anderson, who lost his leg to an improvised explosive device in June, planned a trip to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to surprise the men from Company B, 4-23 Inf. Anderson, however, was surprised to find the men waiting for him at the airport for a welcome home ceremony his wife, Spc. Jasmine Anderson, also with 2-2 SBCT, arraigned.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    Spc. Chris Anderson hugs a fellow Soldier from the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Anderson, who lost his leg to an improvised...

  • Spc. Jasmine Anderson and her husband, Spc. Chris Anderson, both with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, pose for a photo with USO volunteers, Jan. 11, 2013, following the Andersons' arrival at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.  Anderson lost his left leg after stepping on an improvised explosive device, June 12, 2012, in Maiwand province, Afghanistan, and was thrown a surprise welcome home ceremony with nearly 40 Soldiers from his company. Anderson has not seen the men for nearly seven months.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    Spc. Jasmine Anderson and her husband, Spc. Chris Anderson, both with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, pose for a photo with USO volunteers, Jan. 11, 2013, following the Andersons' arrival at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Anderson lost...

  • A cake awaits Spc. Chris Anderson at his surprise welcome home ceremony  at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Jan. 11, 2013. Anderson, who planned to return to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to surprise his men, was given a surprise of his own when nearly 40 Soldiers from his company were waiting inside for him. Anderson lost his left leg after stepping on an improvised explosive device, June 12, 2012, in Maiwand province, Afghanistan. He is assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    A cake awaits Spc. Chris Anderson at his surprise welcome home ceremony at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Jan. 11, 2013. Anderson, who planned to return to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to surprise his men, was given a surprise of his...

  • A picture of the legs of Pittsburgh, Pa., native, Spc. Chris Anderson, who stepped on an improvised explosive device, June 12, 2012, in Maiwand, Afghanistan. Anderson was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    A picture of the legs of Pittsburgh, Pa., native, Spc. Chris Anderson, who stepped on an improvised explosive device, June 12, 2012, in Maiwand, Afghanistan. Anderson was assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat...

  • Spc. Chris Anderson (right), an M240 gunner with 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, talks with Denny Hamilton, an Army veteran and USO volunteer, Jan. 11, 2013, at a surprise welcome home ceremony for Anderson at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Hamilton said it was "an honor" to see Anderson reunited with his men after losing his left leg to an improvised explosive device, June 12, 2012. Hamilton, a Vietnam veteran and former combat aviation Soldier, joined the celebration to thank Anderson for his service, and said it was a relief to see him welcomed home with such love and admiration.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    Spc. Chris Anderson (right), an M240 gunner with 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, talks with Denny Hamilton, an Army veteran and USO volunteer, Jan. 11, 2013, at a surprise welcome home ceremony for Anderson at...

  • Spc. Chris Anderson talks to fellow Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Anderson, who lost his leg to an improvised explosive device in June, planned a trip to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to surprise the men from Company B, 4-23 Inf. Anderson, however, was surprised to find the men waiting for him at the airport for a welcome home ceremony his wife, Spc. Jasmine Anderson, also with 2-2 SBCT, arraigned with the help of local Seattle news station,  KOMO 4 News; the USO; and the non-profit organization The Unfinished Mission.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    Spc. Chris Anderson talks to fellow Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Anderson, who lost his leg to an improvised...

  • Spc. Jasmine Anderson and her husband, Spc. Chris Anderson, both with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, talk to local news reporter Molly Shen, of KOMO 4, Jan. 11, 2013, following the Anderson's arrival at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. KOMO 4, in conjunction with the USO and the non-profit organization The Unfinished Mission, helped surprise Anderson with a welcome home ceremony, after he returned to greet his friends who had recently returned from Afghanistan. Anderson lost his left leg after stepping on an improvised explosive device, June 12, 2012, in Maiwand province, Afghanistan, and has not seen the men for nearly seven months.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    Spc. Jasmine Anderson and her husband, Spc. Chris Anderson, both with the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, talk to local news reporter Molly Shen, of KOMO 4, Jan. 11, 2013, following the Anderson's arrival at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport...

  • Volunteers from the Seattle-Tacoma USO Center pose for a photo after helping set up a surprise welcome home ceremony for Spc. Chris Anderson, Jan. 11, 2013. Anderson lost his left leg after stepping on an improvised explosive device, June 12, 2012, in Maiwand province, Afghanistan. He is assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    Volunteers from the Seattle-Tacoma USO Center pose for a photo after helping set up a surprise welcome home ceremony for Spc. Chris Anderson, Jan. 11, 2013. Anderson lost his left leg after stepping on an improvised explosive device, June 12, 2012, in...

  • Spc. Chris Anderson stands in the middle of fellow Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Anderson, who lost his leg to an improvised explosive device in June, planned a trip to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to surprise the men from Company B, 4-23 Inf. Anderson, however, was surprised to find the men waiting for him at the airport for a Welcome Home ceremony his wife, Spc. Jasmine Anderson, also with 2-2 SBCT, arraigned with the help of local Seattle news station,  KOMO 4 News; the USO; and the non-profit organization The Unfinished Mission.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    Spc. Chris Anderson stands in the middle of fellow Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Anderson, who lost his leg...

  • Spc. Chris Anderson shows his prosthetic to fellow Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Anderson, who lost his leg to an improvised explosive device in July, planned a trip to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to surprise the men from Company B, 4-23 Inf. Anderson was surprised to find out the men were, instead, waiting to surprise him.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    Spc. Chris Anderson shows his prosthetic to fellow Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Anderson, who lost his leg...

  • Spc. Chris Anderson shows his prosthetic and "little stub" to fellow Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Anderson, who lost his leg to an improvised explosive device in July, planned a trip to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to surprise the men from Company B, 4-23 Inf. Anderson, however, was surprised to find the men waiting for him at the airport for a Welcome Home ceremony his wife, Spc. Jasmine Anderson, also with 2-2 SBCT, arraigned with the help of local Seattle news station,  KOMO 4 News; the USO; and the non-profit organization The Unfinished Mission.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    Spc. Chris Anderson shows his prosthetic and "little stub" to fellow Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Anderson...

  • Spc. Jasmine Anderson listens as her husband, Spc. Chris Anderson, is interviewed by a local reporter, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Anderson planned a surprise welcome home ceremony for her husband that included nearly 40 Soldiers from his company. Anderson has not seen the men since June 12, 2012, when he was medically evacuated from Afghanistan after stepping on an improvised explosive device. He suffered an above-the-knee amputation to his left leg following the incident.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    Spc. Jasmine Anderson listens as her husband, Spc. Chris Anderson, is interviewed by a local reporter, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Anderson planned a surprise welcome home ceremony for her husband that included nearly 40...

  • Spc. Chris Anderson talks to a young airport passenger after stepping off a plane, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The boy wanted to meet the Anderson and thank him for his service. Anderson, who lost his leg to an improvised explosive device in June, planned a trip to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to surprise the men from Company B, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Anderson, however, was surprised to find the men waiting for him at the airport for a welcome home ceremony his wife, Spc. Jasmine Anderson, also with 2-2 SBCT, arraigned with the help of local Seattle news station,  KOMO 4 News; the USO; and the non-profit organization The Unfinished Mission.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    Spc. Chris Anderson talks to a young airport passenger after stepping off a plane, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The boy wanted to meet the Anderson and thank him for his service. Anderson, who lost his leg to an...

  • Spc. Chris Anderson and his wife, Spc. Jasmine Anderson, both of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, are greeted by a USO representative, Jan. 11, 2013, after arriving at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Anderson, who returned to surprise his comrades who returned from Afghanistan last week, lost his left after stepping on an improvised explosive device during a dismounted patrol. He has not seen the men in his company since the day of the blast.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    Spc. Chris Anderson and his wife, Spc. Jasmine Anderson, both of the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, are greeted by a USO representative, Jan. 11, 2013, after arriving at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport from the Walter...

  • Spc. Chris Anderson steps off a plane, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Anderson, who lost his leg to an improvised explosive device in July, planned a trip to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to surprise the men from Company B, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Anderson, however, was surprised to find the men waiting for him at the airport for a welcome home ceremony his wife, Spc. Jasmine Anderson, also with 2-2 SBCT, arraigned with the help of local Seattle news station,  KOMO 4 News; the USO; and the non-profit organization The Unfinished Mission.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    Spc. Chris Anderson steps off a plane, Jan. 11, 2013, at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Anderson, who lost his leg to an improvised explosive device in July, planned a trip to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to surprise the men from Company...

  • Volunteers from the Seattle-Tacoma USO Center help set up a surprise welcome home ceremony for Spc. Chris Anderson, Jan. 11, 2013. Anderson lost his left leg after stepping on an improvised explosive device, June 12, 2012, in Maiwand province, Afghanistan. He is assigned to the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division.

    Months-long wait ends for infantryman reunited with comrades

    Volunteers from the Seattle-Tacoma USO Center help set up a surprise welcome home ceremony for Spc. Chris Anderson, Jan. 11, 2013. Anderson lost his left leg after stepping on an improvised explosive device, June 12, 2012, in Maiwand province...

SEATTLE (Jan. 16, 2013) -- On June 12, while conducting a dismounted patrol in Maiwand, Afghanistan, an improvised explosive device detonated near the men of 1st Platoon, Company B, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. Following the explosion, Spc. Chris Anderson's life would forever be changed.

He lost his left leg, above the knee, while suffering substantial damage to his right. Another Soldier suffered a lower extremity amputation in the blast.

In the days, weeks and months following the incident, Anderson said all he could think about was whether or not his comrades would make it through the remainder of the nine-month deployment unscathed. He kept in touch through Facebook as he received nearly 50 surgeries at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

On Jan. 11, Anderson's dream to be reunited with his men came true. With his doctor's approval, Anderson and his wife, Spc. Jasmine Anderson, also in the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Inf. Div., planned how he could surprise the Soldiers of Company B. The couple purchased their tickets Jan. 9, but while Anderson was planning the reunion, Jasmine had a surprise of her own.

She contacted retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 Anne Sprute, founder and president of The Unfinished Mission, a non-profit organization that, according to their website, "[offers] the tools and gateway for veterans to continue their personal and continued mission."

Jasmine, a Charlotte, N.C. native, wanted her husband to be greeted by the men he had to leave behind in a small welcome home ceremony at the Seattle-Tacoma Airport.

Although there were only two days to plan the surprise, Sprute went to work, and what awaited Anderson at the airport was more than Jasmine could have ever hoped for, she said.

Slowly, and meticulously, stepping out of gate C 11 with a prosthetic on one leg and spatial frame supporting the other, Anderson was greeted by thunderous applause from airline and USO staff; Port of Tacoma Police officers; TSA representatives; and nearly 100 strangers, most with tears in their eyes.

But there was more in store for the young Pittsburgh infantryman.

After exiting the concourse, nearly 20 USO volunteers held a large welcome home banner. Again, he was welcomed with cheers. After posing for photos, Anderson was sure that he and Jasmine were going to get their luggage, pick up their rental car and drive to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, where he would be able to finally surprise his men.

The SeaTac USO Center Manager, Bill Baker, told Anderson they saved the couple the trouble of waiting in line and had their rental keys and paperwork upstairs. Following Baker, Anderson made his way to an auditorium upstairs and opened the door to find a surprise of his own- nearly 40 men from his company.

"There was never an option to say 'no, we can't do it,'" Baker said of the request to support the event. "Having the Soldiers wait for him is the final salute to his service (providing him with) a sense of closure, if you will."

Anderson stood in front of the men in disbelief. At one point, he had to turn away and hide his face, the emotion almost too much to handle, he said.

"Words cannot describe the feeling of being able to have his friends surprise him," Jasmine said. "I saw his lip start to tremble, like he was going to cry, but he held it together. This is all he's been talking about. This is what he's been waiting for."

Soldier after Soldier approached Anderson and embraced him. Smiles, laughs and, yes, even some tears spread through the company.

"It's a relief. I'm so thankful you guys are back here," Anderson told the men. "I wanted to surprise you, but I guess you got me," he joked.

Anderson spent time talking, joking and telling stories of his outpatient rehabilitation. He explained his prosthetic, and even passed it around to have it signed.

"I knew he was coming in, and made sure I gathered as many of us as I could," explained Spc. Shane Ryan, a lead M240 gunner with 4-23 Inf. Anderson was Ryan's assistant gunner, but he was not on the mission that July day. "My first worry when I heard he had been hit was whether or not he was going to make it back. It's a big relief to have him here."

For one Army veteran and USO volunteer in attendance, Anderson's reunion with his Soldiers was "an honor" to see. Denny Hamilton, a Vietnam veteran and former combat aviation Soldier, joined the celebration to thank Anderson for his service, and said it was a relief to see him welcomed home with such love and admiration.

"We came home [from Vietnam] a very different way, and I am glad to see that America woke up and gave him the hero's welcome he is most deserving of," Hamilton said.

The Andersons plan on spending the weekend with their friends, most of whom returned from Afghanistan last week. They will return to Walter Reed Jan. 15. Anderson is scheduled to have his 49th surgery Jan. 16, when doctors will place new rods in the spatial frame currently stabilizing his right leg.

Page last updated Thu January 17th, 2013 at 09:30