United States Army Corporal Rusty Carter finally came home on Saturday after many, many months of medial treatment and rehabilitation for severe injuries suffered while serving his nation in Afghanistan. Here is the story of his Welcome Home:


Ride Report by Ride Captain Wayne Lutz. Photos by Dennis Jolly. (Full gallery of Jolly photos click here.)


We were initially contacted by family friend Tony about the homecoming for Rusty Carter. Rusty had suffered very severe injuries while serving in Afghanistan, injuries that have left him paralyzed from the chest down and with0out the use of his hands.


Rusty’s family – his parents, his friends, his step-father, his community, as I quickly learned, were amazingly supportive and of course excited about Rusty coming home. The family had already built an extension onto the home that was needed for Rusty to live at home, a series of home modifications that are needed to accommodate his disabilities.



The family had also contacted the Police Chief of their hometown in Springfield Township in Delaware County, Chief Daly, for help in planning his homecoming. Chief Daly pulled out all of the stops, contacting many local politicians, municipal police and fire departments, and through friend Tony the Warriors’ Watch Riders.


Since the founding of the WWR in 2008 I have personally attended hundreds upon hundreds of welcome homes. I can honestly say that in terms of sheer numbers of people participating and/or attending, this one was the biggest, and rightly so.



Rusty was at the Penn Medicine hospital on South Street in Philadelphia. I arrived at the hospital early, so that I would have the lay of the land and be there to direct people to the proper places as they arrived. As it happened, Rusty and his family were outside when I pulled up and I had the opportunity to meet them quietly.


Rusty talks to WWR members about his plans and goals...

Rusty talks to WWR members about his plans and goals...


Shortly after the first group of WWRiders arrived. They too were early as they had come here directly from an early –morning mission for WWII veterans. Rusty and family came out again (it was a beautiful, warm and clear morning) and I called the 20 or so from this first group over to say hello.


Rusty began to talk to us. He talked for about 20 minutes and had our full attention. What was so extraordinary about this was the he was talking not about how rough it was for him, but instead he was talking about the future – about the things he wanted to do and the things he planned to do and see and experience in the future. This amazing young man spoke about the way things happen and about why things happen – and instead of bemoaning his fate he spoke of his belief  that things happen for a reason.



The plan for this welcome home began to fall into place. The WWR members attending were to meet at the various secondary rally points around the city and from there converge on the hospital as a final rally point. The municipal police and fire departments participating would then arrive in a convoy at the hospital, and we would all greet Rusty and his family and escort them home.  The Philadelphia Police Department, as always, was also a vital part of these logistics, both helping and “putting up” with us as we, as Chief Daly put it, “invaded” Philadelphia.



And an invasion it was. The one city block length of South Street opposite the doors to the hospital was already packed and crowded with people as all of the WWR and the Second Brigade Motorcycle Club had arrived for the event. Then the police “invasion” happened, and even I was amazed.



One after another, car after car after car came down the street, each one from a different police township and municipality. The procession of police vehicles was seemingly endless – on and on they came, followed finally by several emergency vehicles.



Now the street truly was packed. There was barely room to move.  As the time approached I called the masses together for a loudly shouted ride briefing, joined and added to by Chief Daly, and then Rusty came out of the hospital with his family. It took only one shout of “Welcome Home” from me to set the crown into a frenzy.


Somehow we managed to line everyone up for the ride order and with lights flashing and sirens blaring we were off to Springfield. This ride was so big that no one person, either in the ride or watching it, could see the whole thing at one time. From my own perspective, the first motorcycle in the lead, I could see the lead police cars in front of me and the lead motorcycles behind me, and that’s all. The bikes behind stretched to a point beyond my rear-view. In front of me were approximately 25 police cars, each one from a different municipality, every one with lights flashing.



There were also lots of people out to watch us, as well as lots of us to see them. The “parade” had been publicized by newspaper, flyers, and even telephone calls. And the people responded. As we came closer and closer to Rusty’s home, the crowds on the street thickened – all waving flags, cheering, and holding up sincere home-made signs of WELCOME HOME HERO!


At the end point, it took awhile to pack all of those vehicles, bikes, and people into that little block where the home is, but we finally came to the end of the escort. At this home end was A HEROE’S WELCOME and all of our WWR members who use four wheels, adding to the family, friends, community members, police and fire agencies, veterans groups, a string band, and several local, state and federal politicians. They even had a podium set up in front of the house.




Personally I empathized with what I assumed was probably Rusty’s desire to just get home. He had told us earlier that he intended to take about 6 months to just relax and do what he wants to do, and I think he was looking forward to starting that rest period now. So when Maria (A Hero’s Welcome) and I were called to the podium I kept it to 30 seconds or so, and simply offered to Rusty the sentiment upon which the Warriors’ Watch Riders is founded –