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Wounded soldier returns home to Wilmington with optimistic outlook on future

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Sgt. James Pierce came home to a hero's welcome last weekend. Now, he must work to get his body, mind and spirit healed after surviving the devastating attack that killed another local soldier.

Pierce was attacked by a suicide bomber in Khost, Afghanistan, while on patrol in October. The explosion ripped through Pierce's body, collapsing his lung, breaking his arm and shattering his leg. Since the accident, he has been working on building his strength and healing but he's not complaining.

"Honestly, I've been trying to be pretty positive about it, and it's not what happens to you; it's what you do with what happens to you that defines who you are," Pierce said.

Pierce and Hampstead native Sgt. T.J. Butler were in the same unit the day of the attack. Butler did not survive the blast. Now Pierce says he is working to be more like Butler. He says Butler was an inspiration on how to live.

"He was a really good guy," Pierce said. "Whenever you think about somebody, even though he's passed, all you have are the memories. When you remember him, you think, 'Man, he was a straight forward dude and just a wonderful person.'"

Pierce has a long road of recovery ahead of him, but he says he is living his life to the fullest. He says once he is better, he plans to reenlist in the National Guard. Pierce says although he was wounded overseas, he was made to protect and serve.

"You stand up for what you believe in, and I stand up for this country," Pierce said. "I stand up for this community. I stand up for the people, and I will stand up for them and whatever the nation wants or needs. I'll be there."

Pierce said he wanted the community to know how grateful he is of all their support and encouragement.

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Thank you

Sergeant Pierce:

Posting this after we talked tonight at National Airport. I don't know if you'll see it, or remember our conversation if or when you ever do, but I just wanted again to say thank you. For the things that you have done and for the things that you do and that you strive for. May you keep your idealism and keep fighting for what is right and for the many who appreciate all that you do.

Alysoun

Your recovery

I am so glad you're progressing so well. Thank God we have men like you protecting us!

Sgt. Pierce, Thank you for

Sgt. Pierce, Thank you for your service and God speed your recovery.