The war in Iraq has claimed more than 3,000 American lives and injured so many others. We begin a special four-part series on Sergeant Corey Briest of Yankton.
The national guard soldier was on his way to help other members of his unit after roadside bomb explosion when a second bomb went off.
The blasts killed three members of the Charlie Battery and left Briest with a traumatic brain injury.
For the past year, Briest has been undergoing intense therapy in Pomona, California at a private rehab center.
We recently traveled to California so we could show you his progress and what this war has done to him and so many other men and women in our military.
While Briest is making some strides in his recovery, doctors say he'll never be the same.
7th graders at Patrick Henry Middle School consider Corey Briest a hero. They have a wall outside their classroom dedicated to him.
For the past few months they've been writing him letters and making and selling special bracelets. They've donated the money to the Briest family.
With the help of KELOLAND News, the students recorded personal messages
for Briest, messages from the heart.
We took the recordings with us to California so we could show Corey and his wife Jenny just how much Corey means to them.
Because of the explosion, Corey has little to no vision, and has trouble with speech. He listens, but shows little emotion.
Jenny, however, is touched.
"It's just great to see those young adults get to know what's going on and think about these soldiers and get involved," said Jenny Briest.
Jenny says Corey is getting better and will be able to return home soon. She says everyone, including the 7th graders have been so supportive, she hopes one day to return the favor.
"We'll have to go and meet everyone, that'll be the next step when we get home and is go meet and thank everyone," said Jenny.
Jenny says Corey owes it to the students, because they see him as an American hero.
"These kids are following his story just like everyone else is and if he can go and inspire them, then go for it," said Jenny.
Briest undergoes therapy 3 hours a day, four days a week.
If you'd like to send Corey and Jenny a message, click here.
© 2007 KELOLAND TV. All Rights Reserved.