"This is the first major step in starting our lives all over again as a family," Lindsey Stacy said Tuesday.
Her husband, Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy, was finally coming home to her and their four children, nearly two years after he deployed to Syria. About six months into his tour, an explosion almost killed him in Raqqa, the one-time capital of the so-called ISIS "caliphate."
The house in San Diego was draped in a big, red-white-and-blue sign that said "Welcome Home Kenton, Husband, Father and Hero!"
But it wasn't the way they dreamed.
"It is not the way I thought we would welcome him home," Lindsey said in a Facebook posting. "We have had to fight so hard, and have come such a long way. Your prayers and support have made such an impact on our family."
Kenton battled back from wounds that left him a quadriplegic. Another of Lindsey's postings showed him leaving the hospital rehab room in a motorized wheelchair, dressed in crisp camo and boots. She said in a video posting, "Someone's checking out!"
In 2017, she and their four children -- Logan, Mason, Anabelle and Sadie -- "said goodbye to Kenton," who was beginning his third deployment to a war zone, Lindsey said.
"We knew it would be hard without him. I could not wait to welcome him back," she said. "As you all know, our lives were forever changed a month before he was to return home."
In November 2017, Stacy, an explosive ordnance demolition specialist, was with a team that included Army Staff Sgt. Justin Peck as they cleared improvised explosive devices in Raqqa.
Peck was with first lady Melania Trump in the special guest section of the House gallery in January during President Donald Trump's State of the Union address.
"After the team had located and disarmed seven IEDs, Chief Petty Officer Stacy was clearing the second floor of a hospital building when he was struck by an IED blast and severely wounded," according to a White House statement. "Without hesitation, Staff Sergeant Peck, who was holding a position outside the building, rushed to Stacy's location on the uncleared, IED-ridden second floor."
"Staff Sergeant Peck's actions -- including applying a tourniquet, placing an endotracheal tube, and performing artificial respirations and CPR -- were directly responsible for saving Chief Petty Officer Stacy's life."
Following the explosion, Peck immediately "bounded into the booby-trapped building and found Kenton in bad shape. He applied pressure to the wound and inserted a tube to reopen an airway," Trump said in his address. "He then performed CPR for 20 straight minutes during the ground transport and maintained artificial respiration through two hours of emergency surgery. Kenton Stacy would have died if not for Justin's selfless love for a fellow warrior."
In a Pentagon video last year, Army Lt. Gen. Paul Funk, then-commander of Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria and Iraq, described the heroic actions of Peck and the surgical teams that saved Stacy's life.
At the time of the incident, Stacy was "training his guys. They'd been in and out of this room three or four times, and something just wasn't right. So as the professional he was, he went [back] into the room and, when he went into the room, an IED went off," Funk said.
Peck began emergency procedures and called for a medevac helicopter, Funk said. "Within six minutes, that helicopter lands. They went to work, and they were going to save Ken Stacy's life."
But the field surgical team quickly realized that more help was needed, he said. The call went to Irbil, Iraq, and a special team was flown to Syria. On the way back to Irbil, the surgical team massaged Stacy's heart in the open chest wound, Funk said.
"They knew he was going to need a lot of blood," he said, and troops on the ground in Irbil were ready.
They lined up "out the door, down the street and around the corner" to donate blood, Funk said.
"Every person in that chain had to be in the exact location at the exact time to make that system work," Funk said, or Stacy's life would have been lost.
Instead, three days later, Stacy woke up at Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas to find his family at his bedside.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct the timeline of events.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.