MANTECA -- Wounded Navy medic Christopher Braley has returned home after months of hospitalization and will be honored today at a rally at Manteca Christian School.
The 22-year-old 2004 graduate of Sierra High School lost his eye in an explosion in Iraq in September and has undergone seven surgeries on his eye and to remove shrapnel from his brain, relieve brain swelling and rebuild his brow area. He spent about three months at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., before being transferred to a veterans hospital in Palo Alto three days before Christmas.
He must return to the National Naval Medical Center in June to have a titanium plate placed in his skull, said his grandmother, Jane Braley. She said it's been a blessing that her grandson has not suffered any mental impairment from his injury.
The 120 students at Manteca Christian School rallied around him through his surgeries. They made him cards they will present today, said Marilyn Besse, secretary at the school.
"We have been praying for him ever since he was wounded," she said. "He was on the verge of death many times, and our students have been really concerned. And I think our students are really excited. He's an answer to prayers. He's walking and living and doing so well."
She said Mayor Willie Weatherford will give a speech.
Jane Braley said she thinks her grandson will enjoy the thoughtfulness.
"It'll be a big encouragement to him. Nothing is going to replace that eye, but to know you are appreciated and that people care, I think that means a lot to Christopher. He is going to greet the congregation that prayed for him while he was in Bethesda. The church just rallied around him."
The event is open to the public and will be held at 1 p.m. today at the First Assembly of God Church sanctuary adjoining the school at 486 Button Ave. in Manteca.
Bee staff writer Inga Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org