Hometown soldier returns to hero’s welcome

ABC-7 – Posted: May 02, 2014 8:52 PM EST Updated: May 03, 2014 11:13 AM EST

Fort Myers city leaders have declared Monday “Jonathan Carnes Day.”

Cpl. Carnes is a Marine who grew up in Collier County. After graduating from Gulf Coast High School, where he starred on the football and lacrosse teams, Carnes served in Afghanistan.

In late 2011, Carnes stepped on an improvised exploding device. The IED explosion forced doctors to amputate Carnes’ right leg.

But after two long years of rehab and recovery, Carnes is now active and mobile, with the help of a prosthetic leg.

“Only thing I have to do everyday is put a leg on,” Carnes said. “After that, I can keep up with anybody.”

He lives in the Washington D.C. area, but on Thursday, he arrived at Fort Myers International Airport. That’s where Fort Myers City Councilman Tom Leonardo presented him with a proclamation, declaring May 5 as “Jonathan Carnes Day.”

“I never thought I’d live long enough to see it,” Carnes admits. “This is pretty amazing, honestly.”

The trip was put together and paid for by Operation Open Arms, a Southwest Florida non-profit organization helping numerous soldiers. In fact, founder John “Giddy Up” Bunch said the group was nearing its 3,000th soldier helped over its nine years of existence.

Operation Open Arms survives on donations and is run by an all-volunteer force; no one gets a paycheck. But they have been responsible for more than $11 million in benefits to service men and women. You can donate at the organization’s website.

The five-day trip they arranged for Carnes — his first time back in Southwest Florida in five years – includes participation in the Ding Darling & Doc Ford Tarpon Tournament this week. The Purple Heart recipient will also stay for free at ‘Tween Waters Inn and Jensen’s Twin Palms Cottages & Marina on Captiva.

Carnes has officially retired from the Marine Corps and is working for a sprinkler company. But he has set a goal of opening a gun shop, either in the D.C. area or in Southwest Florida.


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