The clouds lifted and the rain gave way to sunshine on Saturday afternoon as the United States Marine Corps band played the Marines’ Hymn at a ceremony marking the homecoming of Cpl. Josh Himan with hundreds of people in attendance. For Himan and his family,
Himan came home to Dale City from Walter Reed Army Medical Center after spending more than Upon arriving, Himan was surprised to find his family’s house completely renovated in order to allow him to easily adapt to living in a wheelchair.
“I don’t know how I’m going to thank everybody,” Himan said through tears. “It means a lot.”
There were cheers, smiles, and plenty of tears at Himan’s homecoming as hundreds of people from the community turned out to welcome him back. He was escorted down Dale Boulevard and all the way to his house on Orangewood Drive by a police motorcade as people lined the streets with signs thanking him for his service.
The house renovation was a project of the Northern Virginia Fuller Center for Housing, which raised the money and completed the project in only 90 days. NOVA Fuller Center President Jacob Koch said the project involved $200,000 in donations of labor, materials and cash, as well as the work of between 500 and 1,000 volunteers. “We took a leap of faith,” Koch said. “This is a miracle.”
In the 58 days between the groundbreaking on Feb. 3 and Himan’s homecoming on Saturday, contractors and volunteers completely renovated the home, including making Himan’s bedroom and the entire first floor wheelchair accessible.
Himan was impressed by the results. ”I like everything,” he said. “I love the outside, love the deck. I’m not sure this is the same house.”
The ceremony featured a list of prominent speakers, including U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly, retired Marine Lt. Gen. Ronald Coleman, and Virginia Del. Rich Anderson, who presented Himan with a flag of the Commonwealth that had been flown above the capitol in Himan’s honor and a commendation from Governor Robert McDonnell.
Fifty Marines lined the Himan family’s driveway as Cpl. Himan was escorted into his home. The Marines are from the Instructor Battalion at the Basic School on Marine Corps Base Quantico. Lt. Col. Mike Samarov, commanding officer of the battalion, said many of his Marines had volunteered on the project.
Ken Brown, a civilian government employee at Quantico, made Samarov aware of the need for help on the project and coordinated the Marines who volunteered to help. Samarov said both instructors and students at The Basic School were involved in the project.
Himan spent much of the day wheeling himself around the new house, complete with wheelchair ramps, and greeting people by name, thanking them for coming. “I will be eternally grateful,” he said. “I appreciate all the community support.”
For Himan, it was hard to believe he was back home. “It’s pretty surreal,” he said. “When I was going down Dale Boulevard, I was like, ‘Oh yeah.’”
“This is where I’ve lived my whole life,” he said. “Anytime you go away and come back, there’s a sense of ease. This is one of the things you say is once in a lifetime. It’s hard to compare this to anything.”
The day was special for Himan’s family as well. “It’s overwhelming,” said Jerry Himan, Josh’s father. “Sometimes it’s hard to receive a gift or a blessing.”
Josh’s mother Pat said the family has come through a lot since the day they heard about his injury. “You spend time in that little world where nothing is real, you just go through the motions,” she said. The family struggled with the question, “Where do we go now?”
They questioned whether to try altering the house to fit Josh’s needs, but decided it would not be possible—until they were contacted by the Fuller Center. “We prayed for it for so long,” Pat said. “I believed it was possible, but I couldn’t see it. I definitely never believed it would be like this.”
“Most of all I’m very grateful to God,” she said. “He brought everything together.” When the family was unsure what to do, Pat said God encouraged her. “God spoke to me then and said, ‘I’m faithful and I’m always good.’”
Himan next plans to go back to college to continue studying finance, but in the meantime, he’s enjoying the new house and being home with his family. “That room is for a king,” he said. “I’ll be glad to stay here until my parents kick me out.”