The call is out to round up as many people as possible to give a hero's welcome to Lance Corporal Joshua Brubaker. He's coming home Sunday at 11:00 a.m. for the first time since he left for service on February 8th and since becoming a double amputee while serving in Afghanistan.
Joshua's family says he knows nothing about the welcome home plans going on right now for him. They want a sea of faces to greet him and show how much Bakersfield cares.
"We've been talking about it and praying about it for so long, and like we've said, this is going to be the best Christmas we could ever have just to have the family back together," said William Brubaker, Joshua's father.
William and his wife have been apart since June, when Joshua lost his legs in a roadside explosion. Josh's mother has been by his side at Walter Reed Medical Center through his recovery.
William and the Wounded Heroes Fund have been building a wheelchair accessible space for Joshua. Revealing the progress on the home addition will be Josh's second surprise. The first, William hopes, is a large hometown crowd to welcome his son home at Meadows Field Airport.
"I encourage everybody to come out, to support not only my son, but other wounded warriors and other service people who come and go," said William Brubaker.
A similar welcome home gave Iraq War veteran, Wesley Barrientos, the strength to walk on his new prosthetics when he returned in 2008. It's a moment he remembers well.
"I had to do it for myself," said Barrientos. "I had to show those people there that they are all there supporting me. They were just incredible that they were there and I could do this and it wasn't over for me."
Joshua Brubaker's family says Josh won't receive his prosthetics until April. He still has some wounds on his legs and needs more surgeries. He will return to Walter Reed just a month after coming home to get those procedures done.
But, like Wesley's welcome, organizers are trying to make Joshua's homecoming unforgettable. They are coordinating with local fire departments for ladder trucks to be at the airport. And, the same Armed Forces Support Riders and Patriot Guard that sent Joshua off, are rallying for his return.
Ben Patten was among those who rode him to his recruitment and he will be there again for the welcome home.
"It's kind of interesting to see the big ol' bikers all leathered up, and they are all teared up because they understand the sacrifice these young men and women are making. It lets them know that Kern County and Bakersfield, we are incredibly supportive of what they are doing," said Patten.
Lance Corporal Joshua Brubaker's plane lands at 11:00 a.m. Sunday. The welcome home ride leaves the Harley Davidson Shop at 10:30 a.m. All motorcycle riders are welcome and encouraged. Wesley, who returned on a Thursday, hopes Joshua receives a larger welcome home than he did on Sunday morning.