Local Marine returns home to week-long celebration after spending 2 years in hospitals

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PITTSBURGH —

A local Marine, who was badly injured while serving in Afghanistan, returned home on Saturday after spending nearly two years in hospitals.

Sgt. Doug Vitale, 26, lost both of his legs and suffered brain damage when he stepped on an explosive in September of 2011 and has been in military hospitals ever since.

People lined the streets to welcome Vitale home for the first time since Christmas of 2010.

Members of the community saluted and held flags as Vitale was escorted from the Allegheny County Airport.

His father, Dale Vitale, said Doug Vitale smiles and responds with eye movement and could tell how important the day was for his son.

“He was looking at me. He's got this unique way of smiling along with an emotional look, so I could tell he was pretty psyched that all these people were out,” said Dale Vitale.

A full week of celebrations are planned to welcome Doug Vitale back to Pittsburgh, including a benefit concert by actor Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band on Friday at Stage AE.

On Monday, Doug Vitale spent the day with the Steelers at training camp.