Updated: Saturday, 30 Jul 2011, 9:50 AM MDT
Published : Friday, 29 Jul 2011, 5:17 PM MDT
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) - Two weeks after receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor, Army Sergeant Leroy Petry received a flood of affection and respect from a lot of New Mexicans on Friday.
Hundreds of people packed the arrival area at the Albuquerque Sunport to cheer for the Santa Fe soldier who lost his hand while saving the lives of his buddies in Afghanistan. Friday was the first time the war hero had been home since receiving the honor July 12th.
Petry is only the second living person to receive the nation's highest military award since Vietnam. Wearing his medal he took extra time to smile, salute and take pictures with nearly everyone in the crowd.
"That young man just went up and down and shook everybody's hand," commented Kay Morrison who was visiting from San Antonio and wasn't expecting to meet a national hero today. "This is a once in a lifetime thing," she exclaimed. "It really is. There's not that many medal of honor winners and certainly not living."
SFC Petry arrived with his wife and three children. He made sure to thank the crowd as he handed out hugs before setting off for a weekend full of celebrations in his honor.
Governor Susana Martinez also hosted a celebration welcoming the hero home Friday afternoon. It was at the Capitol's Rotunda and served as a duel celebration because it was also the soldier's 32nd birthday.
There is a parade through Santa Fe on Monday, August 1, 2011.
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