I know I'm biased, but I honestly believe that the young men and women who volunteer to serve in our armed forces are special. I also know I'm generalizing; there's always some "bad apples" in every bunch, after all, most of my career has been involved with military discipline in one form or another, but the vast majority of our service members are tough, honest, and dedicated. I do have to admit that since my son has joined the Marines, I seem to have grown a special place in my heart for Marines. Not only to they have the best uniforms, by far, and look really good in them; but they are highly trained and highly motivated protectors of our way of life. They do what they're asked to do the best way they know how. Gotta love 'um.
Well, here's a Marine you should know. Cpl Garrett Jones. Last year, this 21-year old Marine he was on a foot patrol near Fallouja in Iraq when he was injured by an IED. The attack left him without a left leg below the knee. Although his recovery was complicated by infections and fevers, and his weight dropped from 175 to 125 pounds, he did recover. Like a Marine will, he courageously faced months of painful rehabilitation. He also faced being medically discharged from the Marine Corps. But like a Marine will, he fought to stay in. He said he wanted to, as Marine will, pave a path for other amputees to follow. He also said he couldn't bear the thought of not deploying with his buddies and his unit. So when he learned his unit was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan, he demanded the chance to deploy along with them. He fought for it, like a Marine will. Well, he's done it. He learned to use the hi-tech prosthesis available to amputees and has now deployed to Afghanistan with his unit. Now that's courage!
Before being allowed to deploy, Cpl Jones had to pass medical tests and prove during training that he could walk effectively, get in and out of a Humvee, and perform other physical tasks. He passed all the tests, keeping his head even when his prosthesis fell off. In one training session, he was in a simulator designed to teach egress from an overturned Humvee, and his prosthesis popped off. He just put it back on and finished the training. It takes real courage to fight for something that must have seemed impossible, and not let it take over your mind. Cpl Jones even snowboards, and wants to compete as a freestyle snowboarder in the 2010 Paralympics. He says, "I can do stuff on a snowboard I don't think any other amputee can do." He can probably do stuff on a snowboard that a lot of people with two good legs, including me, can't do. He thinks that if he wins at the Paralympics, it would be "good publicity for the Marine Corps." It would.
Cpl Jones knows he will always suffer some pain and discomfort, but he just says, "I've accepted that." As far as his deployment to Iraq, Cpl Jones says he "doesn't want to be a liability." He doesn't demand special treatment; even though he is special. One Marine Sgt says Cpl Jones has earned a special status among Marines because of his demand to be sent back to combat. As the Sgt said, "he didn't just choose to come -- he fought to come. We bled and sweated with this guy in Iraq, and he wants to be with us more than anything. That's awesome." A SSgt says that Cpl Jones, "doesn't want to be treated any different from any other Marine. Everybody respects him for wanting to come back after all he gave."
His job keeps him "inside the wire," but Cpl Jones would love to go on patrol. Even at the risk of being hit with a roadside bomb again. This special young Marine says, "If I were to get the opportunity to leave the wire, I would be throwing gear on in a second, happily. I miss being outside and operating . . . Believe me, the first opportunity, I'll be there." Now that's courage! Gotta love the Marines!
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