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Sgt. Joey Jones, right, talks to Jordan Biggerstaff, left, and Logan Biggerstaff at the American Legion in Dalton, Ga. during a welcoming ceremony Saturday.

DALTON, Ga. - Joyce Jones barely could wait for the car door to open to hug her son, a Marine sergeant who arrived home Saturday for the first time since an August bomb blast in Afghanistan took his legs.

Surrounded by a crowd of more than 70 well-wishers and half a dozen news cameras, the only thing missing from Joey Jones' arrival at the American Legion Post 112 in Dalton was a red carpet.

His mother clutched Jones around the shoulders as cameras flashed, the crowd applauded and someone yelled, "Welcome home, Joey."

Jones' girlfriend, Meg Garrison, who has helped him during his recuperation in the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., helped unload his wheelchair.

Then he rolled over to inspect an early Christmas gift, a black 2011 Ford F-250 pickup.

His uncle Jeff Jones and local resident James Boyd have worked with car dealer Allen Brooker and several charities for the last few months so the truck would be here when Jones got home. It still needs modifications so Joey can drive using hand controls, and a little more than half of the $50,000 price tag remains to be raised, Jeff Jones said.

"It's a community effort; the whole community has rallied behind him," said Brooker. "It's the least we can do."

Jones was a bomb technician with the 1st EOD Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group, I Marine Expeditionary Force on a combat tour in Afghanistan.

On Aug. 6, during a bomb-detection mission at the Safar bazaar in the southern part of the country, Jones stepped on a buried improvised explosive device that detonated, destroying his legs and damaging his arms.

He had at least a dozen surgeries at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and moved to Walter Reed in September for further rehabilitation.

Jones is still in the Marine Corps. When his two-week holiday leave is over, he'll return to Walter Reed.

American Legion officials presented Joey with a $4,830 donation from recent fundraisers. The family is raising money to put an addition on their home for when Joey visits and still needs nearly $20,000 to begin full construction.

"It's definitely overwhelming to pull up in Dalton and have this many people here to welcome me," Jones told the crowd inside the Legion post.

"I don't think everyone I work out with and see every day at Walter Reed have this kind of support, and that speaks volumes for this community and the type of people we are," he said.

"I speak every day with people of all ranks and they know Dalton, Georgia, is something special and everyone here is something special to me," he said.

Read more about Sgt. Joey Jones

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