BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -- Independence Police Officer Tom Wagstaff is being honored and officially welcomed back home. Ofc. Wagstaff was shot in the line of duty back on March 29 when responding to a home robbery.
Hundreds lined the streets of Independence Friday to welcome him back home. A formal recognition of the hometown hero was held Saturday at Blue Springs First Baptist Church.
The bright smile of Officer Tom Wagstaff brought joy to hundreds who have followed his journey from the day he was shot in the line of duty, and many were thrilled to see that smile first-hand during Saturday's recognition ceremony.
"If we have learned anything, oh God, over the last eight months, We have learned you're bigger than bullets, you provide for your people, you're larger than life itself and you answer prayers," said Chaplain Wayne Nelson of the Independence Police Department during an opening invocation.
The theme of the recognition ceremony was gratitude for a public servant's brave actions and his will to survive.
"Thank you for running toward danger when the rest of us would run away," said Jackson County prosecutor Jean Peters-Baker.
"Thanks for tenacity you've shown throughout recovery. You will serve as an inspiration to many for a very long time," said Independence Police Department family support officer Captain Adam Dustman.
That heroism was honored by the hometown teams with a custom jersey signed by current and former Royals and Chiefs and a proclamation making a day all his own.
"I do hereby proclaim December 9, 2017 as Officer Tom Wagstaff Day in the city of Independence in recognition of his service and sacrifice," said Independence mayor Eileen Weir.
"Tom's incident should be reminder to all of us that everyday when officers put on uniforms and report to duty the unthinkable can happen, yet the job of serving our community takes precedent," said Independence Police Chief Brad Halsey.
The hometown hero and his wife shared what the long road to recovery has been like from the hospital ICU to out-of-state intensive rehab then therapy, where he had to re-learn how to do everything.
"Initially my goal was to get back to work, but as time progressed and I moved through the rehab process, that became less and less important to me. What was more important was getting back home and being a family man again, a father to my children and husband to my wife," said Officer Wagstaff.
His two sons got the honor of lifetime to pin their hero, their dad, with the Purple Heart.
"For actions that day and well as for strength, courage and determination during his recovery, the Independence Police Department proudly bestows upon him the distinguished service medal"
Wagstaff's sons also hung that medal around their dad's neck.
"My dad is one of the best there is. He's the greatest," said son Alex Wagstaff.
The officer remained humble and took a few moments to express thanks of his own to the countless people who have supported his journey.
"My wonderful, beautiful wife Stacy, my amazing and spectacular kids, Jordan and Alex, they are my true inspiration to get through it all and all of your for your prayers and continued support," said Officer Wagstaff.
Those gathered know Officer Wagstaff's long road to recovery continues, but their hero is ready to keep it going back here at home.
QLI, the intensive brain injury rehabilitation center that has served Wagstaff on his road to recovery, produced a touching video detailing the officers journey. You can watch that video here:
You can watch the medal ceremony here: