Soldier who survived suicide bombing to get hero’s welcome home

U.S. Army military policewoman Sgt. Helaina Lake, 24, formerly of Livermore Falls, is shown with her son, Aden, 2, prior to deploying to Afghanistan in 2011. She was seriously injured in a suicide bombing in June and will be coming home Tuesday for a visit.
U.S. Army military policewoman Sgt. Helaina Lake, 24, formerly of Livermore Falls, is shown with her son, Aden, 2, prior to deploying to Afghanistan in 2011. She was seriously injured in a suicide bombing in June and will be coming home Tuesday for a visit.
Posted Nov. 19, 2012, at 5:48 a.m.
Last modified Nov. 19, 2012, at 8:50 a.m.

LIVERMORE FALLS — When recovering Army policewoman Sgt. Helaina Lake gets off the plane at the Portland International Jetport on Tuesday, it will be with some fanfare.

An escort of police, firefighters from several departments and others will be there to lead Lake, formerly of Livermore Falls, north. Motorcade organizers are trying to get as many people as possible to come out to wave American flags as she and her family pass through South Portland, Portland, up the turnpike and then up Route 4 through Auburn, Turner, Livermore, Livermore Falls and then Jay for a stop at the Knights of Columbus.

Lake was seriously injured on June 20 in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan. Three fellow soldiers died in the attack.

Helaina’s plane is expected at the Jetport at 11:40 a.m., Maine State Police Detective Mike Chavez said.

She will go straight to the stretch Humvee limousine and should be on her way around noon if there are no delays, her uncle Maurice Castonguay said.

Firefighters will have an arch set up with the American flag flying under it as she leaves the airport, he said. Another arch is also planned at the Jay-Livermore Falls line.

Her uncle Jeff Lake and other South Portland firefighters will take care of luggage and belongings, which will follow later.

Chavez is organizing the state police escort. Castonguay is organizing the firefighters and police. Veterans will also turn out for the homecoming.

Chavez, commander of a squadron at the Turner Sons of American Legion, said he has also heard the Patriot Guard may turn out.

He is trying to get as many people as possible to line the Livermore Falls Memorial Bridge and wave flags as the convoy passes.

Castonguay estimated that once they are out of the airport, it will probably take 90 minutes or so, if there are no delays, to get to the Knights Hall on Route 4 in Jay.

From there, Lake will return to her childhood home in Livermore Falls, where she grew up with two siblings and parents Bernal and Jeannine Lake. Helaina Lake is a 2007 Livermore Falls High School graduate, is a former firefighter and was a scholar athlete.

Lake has spent months in and out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland. She has undergone numerous surgeries Among her injuries were burns, damage to an arm and a shattered leg, family members previously said. She has undergone more than 18 surgeries and intensive physical therapy, and her treatment is not over. She goes back in early January.

Bernal Lake said Saturday that his daughter now has a walker modified for her to get around. She also has a wheelchair if she gets tired.

Every time he thinks of seeing his oldest daughter, Lake said, he cries. He hasn’t seen her in person for 18 months. She was deployed in 2011 while her parents and family took care of her son, Aden, 2.

Bernal Lake said he has kept in touch on Skype. He stayed home to care for the farm while his wife, a registered nurse, flew out to be with their daughter. Aden followed later.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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