FLORENCE, Ky. -- U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Brandon Bailey was on his third deployment in Afghanistan when a roadside bomb hit his Humvee.
That truck, which he'd been inside moments earlier, ended up on top of him, Bailey said. His hip was crushed, and with too many broken bones to count, doctors seemed sure at first he'd die of infection.
"To kind of give you an idea, my mother spent 362 nights in a hospital with me in a two-year period," he said.
At best, doctors told him he'd never walk again. But he beat the odds, and he not only recovered, but did so well he was able to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle again.
After his retirement, Bailey sent his motorcycle to California to be customized.
"He hand-painted a Purple Heart medal on the front of the left side of the tank, kind of if I was wearing my dress blue uniforms, where my Purple Heart would be positioned," Bailey said.
On Sunday night, he took it out for a ride, over to his parents' house for dinner. While they were inside, Bailey, said, the house rattled. He knew what it was, but he didn't know why it was happening.
"I look at my mom," Bailey said. "Her eyes got as big as mine were."
He rushed to the door, he said, only to see the tail end up his beloved bike going up the street. Barely visible on surveillance footage, the thief got spooked the first time he or she tried to take the bike. The second time, Bailey's Harley started, and off it went.
"I knew I wasn't on it," he said, "and whoever was on it wasn't supposed to be on it."
Based on what it takes to start the motorcycle, Bailey thinks the thief has experience with Harleys. And for him, the motorcycle is more than just its parts. It's a release from all he's seen overseas.
"Possessions are great," he said, "but that bike? That was part of me. And I just can't wrap my head around why someone would want to do that."
Anyone with information on the theft should call Florence police at 859-647-5420.