KODAK (WATE) – A decorated veteran came back home from his ninth deployment with his family welcoming him with a surprise. Joshua Gregory got to throw the first pitch at Thursday’s game at Smokies Stadium. Gregory is an East Tennessee native and has been serving since 2001.
Gregory proudly serves this country. His bravery earned him the Purple Heart after being shot in combat in Afghanistan.
“What I am doing means something,” said Joshua Gregory Gregory, a technical sergeant for the United States Air Force.
Now back from war, it was a moment at Smokies Stadium that also gave him the jitters.
“Apparently, my family wanted to surprise me,” he said.
They surprised him a few hours before with the first pitch at the ballgame. His mom, Donna Gregory, was overjoyed to have her son home safe.
“I can’t explain it in words,” she said.
This surprise was this family’s chance to celebrate Joshua for all the times they couldn’t.
“He missed out of the Hero’s Day here and Veteran’s day,” Donna Gregory said.
Before this surprise, his family got one from Joshua. His wife, Stacei Gregory had no clue about his return.
“I was asleep. I was going to slap him. I didn’t know who it was,” she said.
His 10-year-old son was also happy to have his dad home. He even got to share the moment on the field by yelling “play ball.” Joshua Gregory was cherishing every moment. He was a proud father who said his deployments and awards all all for his son.
“Just shows what I was capable of doing and how much I love him and every one back here,” Joshua Gregory said.
Everyone back here showed their love too. Joshua Gregory will be going back to his base in Georgia in July. Service to this country runs deep in this family. His grandfathers and father also served. If you combine the three generations’ years of service, it comes out to 130.