Homecoming celebration for Marine badly burned in accident

Badly-burned officer returns home
Published: Aug. 12, 2013 at 3:40 AM EDT
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JAMES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Staff Sergeant Harold Veronda, is out of the hospital for the first time since being severely burned two months ago.

Veronda said, "I'm thankful that I'm here, thankful that I have another chance."

He was welcomed home Sunday by family and friends and says he's healing well.

"I just started walking pretty much yesterday," said Veronda.

Veronda says he's determined to get better after the unthinkable happened on June 2nd. He was doing yard work on another property trying to burn an old tree stump when things went wrong.

"I came closer and I put a little bit more kerosene and when I did, it flashed and it blew up in my face," said Veronda.

He did manage to stop, drop and roll, but by then half of his body was already burned.

"Basically from my chest all the way down my front to my calves," said Veronda.

Before calling 911, he called his wife Angela for help.

She said, "I basically just prayed the whole way there because I was so scared that I wouldn't be able to handle it."

Veronda was taken by helicopter to the burn unit in Augusta, Georgia. The trauma to his body caused a massive heart attack. He then had to have triple bypass surgery.

"Then they discovered one of my lungs had collapsed," said Veronda.

One of the only things he remembers from the hospital is waking up on July 29th. His room was full of get well cards and pictures.

Veronda said, "It was overwhelming and it brought tears to my eyes of how many people really cared about how I was doing."

Surrounded by family and friends celebrating his recovery, Veronda has high hopes.

"People are still praying. I'm not 100%, not 50%, but I eventually will be there," said Veronda.

By this time next year he plans to be able to play baseball. It's one of his favorite hobbies.

Veronda will continue to have regular checkups from doctors from the burn unit in Augusta.

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