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Jay Leno Surprises Wounded War Veteran with New Dodge SRT Challenger Hellcat

images-1Gifts are great, but they’re always much more special when you aren’t expecting them. Maybe this is why Cpl. Ethan Laberge was stunned when Jay Leno said that he was going to give him a brand new Challenger Hellcat. While on foot patrol in Afghanistan, Ethan Laberge was rushed by a suicide bomber. The bomber drove up to Laberge and immediately detonated the bomb. This left Laberge seriously injured, and killed two of his fellow soldiers and friends.

During an interview on the Today Show, Laberge described how metal pierced his knee and leg. He had superficial wounds on his arm, and broke a couple of bones in his wrist. Metal shards embedded in his arm bone, and he shattered his thumb. But out of all of these physical injuries, nothing compares to the traumatic PSTD that he must live with on a daily basis. Laberge frequently experiences memory problems and finds it difficult to function in everyday society.

While on the Today Show, Sgt. Clinton Lein went on to say that, “If you called Cpl. Laberge a hero, he’d laugh”. He added, “He’d never consider himself a hero but he is to guys like us.” Jay Leno, who turned 64 this year, often meets with a variety of soldiers. However, considering that most of them are barely out of their teen years, he finds it difficult to relate to them. But Leno didn’t have any trouble at all building rapport with Laberge when he was recently on “The Shine A Light series on the Today Show. For one, they both love to drive cars. And not just any cars – fast ones.

Due to their common ground, Leno had something for Leberge: a 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Well, he didn’t actually present it as a gift initially. Instead, he offered to take Laberge for a ride, which he instantly agreed to. As a matter of fact, when asked if he wanted to take it for a spin, Laberge answered, “Hell yeah!” As he opened up the vehicle on the country roads near the base in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, he let out a screetch of excitement, “It’s too cool!

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During their joy ride, the two stopped to enjoy some food. This is when Leno was really able to sit down and learn more about Laberge’s story. Laberge said “Where I’m sitting now, I don’t know exactly how well I’ll recover.” Leno asked the ex-solider if he ever feels discouraged based on what happened. Laberge admitted he does, but that he gets through it with the help of family and friends. After arriving back to the base, Laberge told The Today Show, “That was awesome. I wouldn’t mind having one of these”.

Then came the big surprise. “It’s yours,” Leno said, adding, “America loves you. Thank you buddy. Have a lot of fun. Don’t get any tickets.”  What were Laberge’s final words? “It can’t promise that,” he said with a gaping smile.

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