South Milwaukee veteran welcomed home after motorcycle accident

The veteran is a Medal of Honor recipient

Medal of Honor recipient and South Milwaukee native Gary Wetzel returned home Wednesday almost a year after a serious motorcycle accident.

About a mile from Wetzel's home, the final stretch of his journey looked like a parade. A line of motorcycles, police and fire trucks guided him home while dozens of friendly faces lined the sidewalks to cheer. The gallery only grew at the final destination.

"I'm finally home, it only took a year but I'm home!" Wetzel said.

Last August, Wetzel was on his way to South Dakota to accept an award when he lost control on his motorcycle. He fell and broke his shoulder, ribs and pelvis.

"In all honesty, I really had my doubts about walking again after spending three months in the bed," he said.

His hospital bed brought memories of his past.  Nearly 50 years ago, Wetzel's helicopter was shot down in the Vietnam War. He was severely wounded yet he continued to battle. Wetzel was later honored with a Congressional Medal of Honor.

Back at Wetzel’s house, he wore a blindfold as he entered his home for the big reveal of a year's worth of accessibility upgrades thanks to the Gary Sinise Foundation, a non-profit charity for wounded veterans.

"We took out all the carpet and soft floor coverings and redid the floors and brought them all up to the same level in the house," said Bartelt Remodeling owner Rick Bartelt.

"I can get from my bedroom to the bathroom to here and to have my own independence," Wetzel said.

Despite the accident, Wetzel says he plans to get back on his bike.


Print this article Back to Top