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WNY Military Family Reuniting with Injured Son

4:13 PM, May 10, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - A Western New York military family is on the way to see their loved one, who was badly injured in Afghanistan last month.

Staff Sergeant Robert Thomas, Jr., has burns to most of his body. But, a local non-profit is jumping in and making it possible for his stepmom, Katie and sister, Kallista to be with him on Mother's Day.

"I couldn't ask for a better kid, I couldn't ask for a better step kid, he is absolutely fantastic," said Katie Thomas, at Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

It's a miracle that Thomas is alive and recovering in a Texas hospital. About three weeks ago, the 24-year-old, was in Afghanistan on his third tour in the Middle East. His family says he served one tour in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. 

Thomas was on base at the time and all of a sudden there was an explosion. Details of the incident are vague and the U.S. Military is investigating what happened.

Thomas was closest to the fire and now -- he has second and third degree burns on 87 percent of his body.

"Everybody is very overwhelmed, so hard, trying to be as supportive as we can with everything that's happened and just keep the prayers coming," said Katie Thomas.

The family is of Wyoming County, although Robert Thomas, Jr. is from California and trained and deployed out of Texas and Kentucky. Katie hasn't seen Robert in four years, because he's been away on duty.

Meantime, Robert's had multiple surgeries and is in and out of consciousness. But, one thing Robert does know is that his family loves him. His Dad is down in Texas with his son.

"It's huge, it's huge, it's a beautiful thing that's happening," said Thomas, "Just to be able to support everybody that's there."

Katie and Kallista are going to Texas to be with Robert and his Dad. The family will finally be together this Mother's Day weekend because Western New York heroes heard of the family's story last night. The organization knew the Thomas's couldn't afford the tickets and made some calls -- arranging for Katie and Kallista to fly to Texas, no questions asked.

"This mother had to be with her son, I have two boys I just know what it would be like not to be with my child who was so injured and facing surgery it just had to be done," said Marcy Munson the vice-chair of WNY Heroes.

Katie knows the first thing she's going to say to Robert when they're together at last.

"That I love him and keep fighting," she said.

Robert has a major surgery scheduled later this month. Meantime, the family has their return flight ticket taken care of and it's open-ended, so they can use it whenever they need to whenever they're ready to come back home.

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