Army Sgt. Monte Bernardo's mother, brother and four sisters hurried to visit the wounded soldier, who lost parts of three limbs in a bomb blast in Afghanistan on July 4.
They wanted to comfort Bernardo, 30, who grew up in Petaluma and was serving his second tour in Afghanistan when the bomb went off during a firefight in Kandahar province.
But the inspiration seems to be flowing the other way.
"When I looked him in the eyes, I knew he was very proud and he was strong," said his brother, Frank Bernardo, 36, of Dallas. "One of the first things he said was, &‘I'm an American hero.'"
"He knows what he has sacrificed for his country and for our freedom, and he's proud of it," said Frank Bernardo, an Air Force Reserve staff sergeant.