Cameron Double Amputee Soldier Gets Hero’s Reception

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CAMERON, Mo. -- The community in Cameron, Mo., honored a local soldier Sunday, who lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan.

Heath Dalton Clemons is a big outdoors man. He said he just shot a nine-point buck earlier this month. But this harvest for is different because of what happened to him on May 29.

"I stepped on a plate and it exploded," Clemons said. "I was shot 10 to 15 feet in the air. When I came down I actually landed on what was my knee."

Clemons lost both legs and now uses prosthetic ones.

The 21-year-old's sacrifice is why the Patriot Guard gave him a hero's welcome to the reception at the Cameron Community Building. It's also why the local VFW presented him with awards and why so many strangers crowd around him to thank him.

"It just knits us even closer to know that we have young men and women in this community that are willing to sacrifice themselves for us," said Allen Reed, lead commander at the VFW Post 7158.

Clemons spent June through November in a Texas rehabilitation center and said the road to recovery has not exactly been easy.

"There's afternoon sessions, 30 minutes of pool workout, and they keep telling you it gets easier as you go on, but it doesn't," Clemons said.

But he does find ways to see the silver lining and smile.

"I don't have feet anymore but when I'm hunting, my feet never get cold, kind-of-attitude," he said. "It really does a lot."

It seems this soldier's love for the outdoors always ends up in an answer to a question, even when someone asked him during rehab what he wanted most.

"I wanted a ladder for therapy because I needed to be able to climb a ladder to be able to get into my deer stand," Clemons said.

He said it's being outdoors that makes him feel at home again.

Clemons said he leaves for the Texas rehab center again on Thursday. He said he's having surgery on one ear drum because he lost both in the explosion. He'll also get a new computer-processed knee that'll bend when he walks.

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