Robert “Hoby” Bonham, one of two Roswell firefighters severely injured in a June 5 explosion who was transported to a Lubbock hospital, arrived back in town Saturday afternoon, with an escort of law enforcement and Roswell Fire Department vehicles and dozens of people lining East Second Street to welcome him.
Bonham and Fire Chief Devin Graham then appeared at the main fire station on South Richardson Avenue for a brief news conference to discuss Bonham’s situation.
Bonham, 36, said that he has undergone two surgeries and will be at home recovering now for a while, with periodic home sessions of physical and occupational therapy.
Jeff Stroble, 46, the other man who suffered significant injuries — when fireworks intended for the Fourth of July show exploded in a bunker on the west side of the Roswell airfield — remains in Lubbock. The other 10 firefighters on site during the incident sustained only minor injuries that did not require hospital stays.
“I would just like to say, to give thanks to God for keeping us safe,” Bonham said. “I would like to thank my family, my Fire Department family, standing by my side, all my friends, helping me get through this deal. I want to thank the community and all the surrounding communities. They’ve been awesome. All of the donations and fundraisers and prayers, I’ve really been humbled by all of it. I would like to thank the Roswell and Lubbock medical personnel, the fire departments from those cities and the police departments from those cities. I am kind of sad to leave Jeff, but I know he is in great care over there. They are doing a good job, plus he’s got a wonderful family and he’ll get through it. Again, I would like to ask you guys to keep praying for him, all the support and prayers that you guys can give him and his family. And again, I thank you for all the support and prayers you have given us.”
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Bonham said he and his wife, Amanda, look forward to reuniting with their two young children, who have been out of state staying with relatives. He said he has not seen them since June 5, although he was able to talk with them on the phone.
Bonham said he appreciated the escort and the welcome home, that it brought tears to his eyes and gave him chills.
Fire Chief Graham also gave thanks for the welcome home Saturday and for the community support during the past month, which has included fundraising events and prayer vigils.
“This is a special day for the Bonham family and a special day for the Roswell Fire Department family and the city of Roswell as a whole and the community,” he said. “We appreciate everybody coming out and showing their love and support for the Fire Department and specifically Hoby and Jeff, and we are just thrilled to have Hoby back home.”
He also said that, as positive as the day’s events were, the firefighters’ recovery continues.
“We are celebrating that Hoby is home, and yet we need to focus on the fact that he has a long process of healing that is going to take place,” Graham said, “and so we continue to pray and support them as they work through the healing process. And then, of course, Jeff Stroble is still over in Lubbock, and we need to continue as a community to continue to pray and support Jeff and his family.”