Obama visits wounded warrior at Gilbert home

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GILBERT, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

President Barack Obama was in the Valley to visit the Phoenix VA hospital Friday, but he also made a surprise trip to see an inspirational wounded warrior with whom he has grown a personal relationship.  

The president took an unannounced trip out to Gilbert, where he attended a housewarming party for Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg. 

The day had already been pretty good to Remsburg. He was handed the keys to his very own home, donated and retrofitted so he can regain a huge chunk of independence.  It's a triumphant validation of his resolve to recover after a roadside bomb exploded on his platoon in Afghanistan five and a half years ago. 

President Obama had met the Army ranger prior to his traumatic brain injury and was quick to visit Remsburg during the early, dark days of the recovery process. Six times in all the president has met with Remsburg, including hosting him as a guest during the State of the Union Address in 2014.

During Friday's housewarming, Remsburg and his family got a call: President Obama wanted to drop by for another quick hello. 

"Cory, God bless you, man. Rangers lead the way," Obama said, moments before embracing Remsburg in his backyard filled with friends and family. 

The president told Remsburg he was proud of him and told the crowd that Remsburg's story should be an inspiration to the nation. 

"He was very, kind of, 'Hey, you're doing good. Keep up the good work,' " Remsburg said, retelling the experience while standing on the front walk of his home after Obama's visit. 

Remsburg's father said the bond between his son and the president is both friendly and formal. At the end of the day, it's the professional respect of a soldier and his commander in chief.  

"Deploying 10 times, being in the fight that long, and then watching that recovery - I think there's been a personal interest by the president about Cory," said father Craig Remsburg, an ever-present supporter at events and appearances.

He added that White House representatives occasionally call to get updates on his son's recovery.

President Obama has seen many stages of the recovery. The first visit after the injury, Cory Remsburg was confined to a bed and couldn't speak or move the left side of his body. Then, there was a wheelchair, followed by a walker, and now - for the first time since Afghanistan - Remsburg greeted the president by standing unassisted in his own driveway. 

"We got asked, 'Would you like to welcome him to your house?' And Cory did just that. 'Hey, welcome to my home. Come on in,' " Craig Remsburg said, recounting the driveway greeting from President Obama. "I believe his first words were, 'Cory, you are improving still.' "

"What was really nice is when he did come, he came and just sat down at Cory's round table, and we just talked, talked about how things are going and shared little stories," Craig Remsburg said. "You know, that's why I think Cory's story is so important.  He doesn't give up. He refuses to give up. He won't be defined by his injury."

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