SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - In April of 2010, GySgt Pablo Barrios received a heroes welcome as he returned back to the Lowcountry after being wounded in Iraq two months earlier while helping to train the Iraqi military.
"We were in a convoy coming back from an exercise and an IED hit the side of the vehicle," said Barrios. "It came through here, out through the forearm across my chest and through the biceps."
The explosion caused severe internal injures and damage to both of his arms.
"It removed most of my right arm," said Barrios. "This is all repaired, skin graphs, muscle graphs. it would have been comparable to a shark bite. This part was completely removed."
The road to recovery hasn't been easy. He's undergone 35 surgeries and intense physical therapy.
"Its work everyday, seven days a week, 24 hours a day and its just about getting back to where I can feel more of a use to the Marine Corps," said Barrios. "My goal currently and even before was to get physically fit enough to be able to maintain my duties at the MAG, where I work, MAG 31 at Marine Corps Air Station."
So, for the past year and half, GySgt Barrios has been on a mission, putting all he's got into his recovery.
"When I initially started here, I was here five days a week, going to occupational therapy, combined. I would do an hour plus here and then cross over to the physical therapy side clinic and do physical therapy over there, treadmill, core work," said Barrios.
All of his hard work and dedication is paying off.
"Over the past year and half we've watched him progress out of the splints, become stronger, more functional with his upper extremities and re-enter his life as he knows it," said Courtney Garbade, Coastal Hand Therapy.
Day by day, with each exercise, he's getting stronger and stronger. He's now graduating to just several days of therapy a week. While he still has a long road ahead, he's able to put back on his uniform and do some administrative work at MAG 31, hoping to come back to work full time as the Intelligence Chief.
"I wanted to do what I joined the Marine Corps to do and that's to be a Marine and do the services required of me," said Barrios.
GySgt Barrios says he's hoping to get back to work full time soon. While he's obviously put a lot into his recovery, he's quick to tell everyone that his wife is the real hero and that he couldn't do it without her.