A soldier is recovering in the hospital with severe facial injuries after a group of 10-15 men in a gang beat him because he was wearing an Army jacket.
Austin Freni, 19, had originally flown home to New Jersey from his Army base in Georgia to see his widowed mother, thanks to the kindness of a stranger who donated to his mother’s GoFundMe page. But he was jumped by a gang in Philadelphia, the Daily Mail reported.
Freni was walking with his mom and girlfriend after the annual Mummers Parade, a folk festival in Philadelphia, when a group of young men made “derogatory” comments about his jacket.
“Group of 10-15 guys walked by me (making) derogatory comments towards Austin’s Army jacket,” Austin’s mother, Lori, said to WTXF.
She said one of the young met hit Austin before the others piled on.
“Me and his girlfriend tried pulling them off and they hit us. We got hit in the face. She got thrown in the street,” Lori explained. “He’s got to get plates put in his jaw and his mouth will be wired shut for the next eight weeks.”
Now, Austin is in Jefferson University Hospital, his facial injuries facing a long road to recovery.
Freni was stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia, and was scheduled for deployment to the Middle East in the new year.
Freni came home after a stranger paid money to his mother’s GoFundMe page so Lori could afford the plane fare to bring her son home.