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Danville Pays Tribute To Disabled Iraq War Vet

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Danville's big Fourth of July parade honored one of the city's newest residents today. Sgt. Joey Bozik is a wounded Iraq War veteran the community is welcoming with much more than a place of honor in the parade.

Danville's Fourth of July parade is as traditional and homegrown as it gets in 2006. But this year's guest of honor is not a hometown boy. In fact, Joey Bozik and his wife Jayme might just be Danville's newest residents.

Joey Bozik, wounded Iraq War veteran: "It's an unbelievable way to start off the next four years... I was fortunate enough to be here coming into town on the Fouth of July. I don't know if it was coincidence or fate or what."

Coincidence, fate and a little bit of love at first sight. Weeping moms lined the route. Some rushed forward to present their children and shake Bozik's hand.

Myrna Lawson, parade goer: "I just thought it was important for them to really meet somebody like that."

Joey Bozik lost both legs and a hand in Iraq in 2004. Danville's Sentinels of Freedom Wounded Warrior Program offered Sgt. Bozik a four-year scholarship, a place to live, a van and a job.

And then Danville gave the Bozik's something you can't buy -- thanks and admiration.

Tammi Jenkins, Blue Star Mom: "The progress that they've made and what they've done so far with being wounded as they are is awesome. And they're ready to move into this community and just be a part of it and we're hoping that the community will embrace them as well."

Bozik is the third wounded veteran to receive the scholarship. Manny Mendoza was the second. The two were injured around the same time. They met at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

Manny Mendoza, wounded Iraq War veteran: "He's going to have a lot of conferences, a lot of people to meet. So I say I'll talk to him in about six months once everything's calmed down."

Jayme Bozik, Joey's wife: "Nice to have something positive come out of what has happened and Joey and I are making the best of it."

Joey Bozik: "Overwhelming, it's ecstatic. I'm so happy and it's just fantastic. I love everybody out here."

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