Nearly half a year has passed since a soldier from Brooklyn Park was injured in Afghanistan, but he returned home for the first time on Thursday.
Marco Solt lost both of his legs in the attack that nearly left his newlywed bride a widow just six months into their marriage.
"It was kind of like getting hit with a freight train," he recalled. "It was 300 pounds right underneath my seat."
Now, the two are now preparing to celebrate their first anniversary on Saturday.
"I'm very fortunate," Solt told FOX 9 News.
Solt was on patrol, working with his Army unit to clear bombs in Afghanistan when one went off.
"At first, it doesn't hit you that you lost your legs," he said.
The blast took both of his legs, but he said his wife helped him keep his spirit.
"I wouldn't be where I am without her," he told FOX 9 News. "She kept me going. She just always said, 'I love you, you are better than what this incident is. We are going to be stronger because of it.'"
Looking back now, Solt said he knows the experience made him stronger, starting with a visit from President Barack Obama, who personally gave Solt his Purple Heart.
"It's a moment I'll remember for the rest of my life," he said, "him being there -- and caring."
The soldier says he's been overwhelmed all the care he has received -- including from strangers in his home state. In 2008, Aaron Holm created the Wiggle Your Toes Foundation after losing his own legs while helping a coworker change a tire on the highway. Since then, the foundation has helped countless veterans get back on their feet. Now, they're raising money for Solt's recovery.
"The people that want to succeed, we will help them succeed," Holm vowed. "It's really rewarding to us."
The foundation is hosting a public fundraiser so people can come to thank the hometown hero for his service and sacrifice. The Patriot Guard will kick off the event at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27 at Sammy's Pizza, located at 9750 Schreiber Terrace. The event will go until 3 p.m., and will also include a Silent Auction and split the pot raffle.
Solt used to work at Sammy's, and he told FOX 9 News it's the perfect place to celebrate his return home.
"It's mind blowing," Solt said. "I can't really explain it. I'm at a loss for words."
Donations will be accepted at the door and online, and the Wiggle Your Toes Foundation will match donations up to $5,000.
Solt told FOX 9 News he joined the Army to be a part of something special, and he has never regretted the choice he made for even a moment.
"As much as I'm glad to be sitting in my living room right now, if I had the choice, I'd be in Afghanistan -- legs or no legs -- right now," he said.