One of Penn Valley’s favorite sons is coming home.
U.S. Army Spc. Brandon Walden, a 20-year-old Penn Valley native who suffered life-threatening gunshot wounds after being attacked July 3 by an Afghan man wearing an Afghan National Security Forces uniform, is slated to return to western Nevada County Tuesday.
Walden and his mother Laura Cummins, who has been away from her Penn Valley home since rushing to her son’s bedside in July, are scheduled to arrive at the Sacramento International Airport at 1 p.m. on United Airlines fight 1191.
Western Nevada County residents, who have contributed to a swell of support for Cummins and Walden throughout their travail, will welcome the wounded soldier.
“We want people to come out,” said Jay Cooper, who along with Fred Buhler and others, has organized a parade through Penn Valley for Walden. The parade will end at Western Gateway Park, where Cooper will officiate over a 2:30 p.m. ceremony, weather permitting.
“I’m hopeful that Penn Valley residents will tie yellow ribbons around their trees,” Cooper said. “I think the greatest medicine for Brandon will be a nice welcome home.”
Ruby Foster, a local quilter, will present Walden with a specially made quilt.
Buhler, a founding member of Friends of Nevada County Military, said it is important for the community to give Walden a proper welcome and express appropriate gratitude.
“Brandon is one of the young men who has served his country greatly,” Buhler said.
Walden will spend about one week at home in Penn Valley before returning to the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, where he will continue his rehabilitation.
Walden was shot in the hip and the path of the bullet caused severe damage to some of his vital organs. Initially, an infection was so severe that Walden’s life was threatened. As he became more stable, the fear turned toward whether he would be able to keep his leg where the infection was centered.
Last week, Cummins told The Union that the infection had subsided, and Walden’s concentration turned toward establishing a range of motion in his leg and intensive physical therapies.
Cummins has not been able to work in the last couple months, and the community has rallied around the family, holding fundraising dinners and establishing funds to help with bills.
Those interested in helping can make a donation to: Brandon Walden Donation Fund, c/o Wells Fargo Bank, 17446 Penn Valley Drive, Penn Valley, CA 95946.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4239.
“I think the greatest medicine for Brandon will be a nice welcome home.”
— Jay Cooper,