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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
A crowd of people gathered at the Montgomery Regional Airport Friday afternoon and waited anxiously to welcome home a wounded warrior.
While everyone else was enjoying Memorial Day weekend, Corporal Dreama Nicole (Nikki) Knudsen Fleming was performing her duty as the driver of a USMC minesweeper in Afghanistan. Then, her vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device, or IED.
The resulting explosion was large enough that it completely flipped the Marine's vehicle upside down. Fellow Marines pulled her from the burning wreckage.
Cpl Fleming suffered head trauma and multiple instances of damage to her vertebrae, but she survived and was sent to Bethesda Naval Hospital for treatment.
"It"s the only reason I am as well as I am today. whenever I was back in the hospital, back in Afghanistan, I had 20 of 30 of my guys coming in to see how I was doing," Cpl Fleming said.
She and her husband (also a USMC veteran of Afghanistan) made the trip home Friday to Alabama where she received a hero's welcome!
"It's great, it's really to be here. I miss a lot of my guys, but I know that they'll be here soon," he said.
In the crowd of people waiting to see Cpl Fleming was her baby girl whom she hasn't seen since before she was injured.
Cpl. Fleming's family asked the Patriot Guard Riders to stand a flag line in the airport and to then escort her during the 45 minute drive to the Boones Chapel church in Prattville where the Pine Level resident is being given a community welcome home.
Cpl. Fleming said the real heroes are the men who rescued her from the vehicle and put their lives on the line every day.
She hopes to rejoin her colleagues when she recovers from her injuries.