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Friday, October 13, 2006

The Men and Their Stories - Wounded Part 1Corporal Aaron M SharenoCorporal Aaron M Shareno

Corporal Aaron M. Shareno deployed to Iraq on July 18, 2005 with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment (2/2). Serving near the city of Karma, Iraq, Cpl. Shareno was 5 months into his deployment when he was wounded by a suicide vehicle-borne IED on December 14th, just 11 days before Christmas. His platoon had established fighting positions near a palm grove, approximately 25 meters from the edge of the road, when an insurgent drove his vehicle into the side of a 7 ton truck, detonating the explosives and instantly vaporizing the vehicle. The explosion sent shrapnel and chunks of metal through the air, knocking Cpl. Shareno and other Marines to the ground. "I got blown forward and a piece of shrapnel traveled through my palm and blew out the left matacarpal in my thumb - just shattered it," recalled Shareno. "When I got blown forward, I remember thinking I'm dead...I fell to my side and felt something was funny, not right...I saw my thumb drooping down...blood flowing out of my palm. It nicked two arteries in my hand. I put pressure on it below the wrist to stop the bleeding." Cpl. Shareno lauded the fast reaction of the Corpsman who treated him on the scene, but could not remember his name. "If I saw his face, I could recognize (him)", Shareno said. "He slapped a tournaquet on my hand...it was a unique experience." Medevac'd to Camp Fallujah Surgical, then ultimately to Balad and Germany before flying back to the United States, Cpl. Shareno regretted not being able to finish his deployment in Iraq. " I was a little shook up...more angry than anything...I (was) two months out (from leaving); ready to reenlist (when) I get hit. I just wanted to finish my pump, I wanted to reenlist and I wanted to continue on with my Marine Corps career." Now at the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Camp Lejeune, Cpl. Shareno is much less angry and is not letting his injuries get in the way of his career. "I plan on retiring from the Marine Corps," says Shereno. "I'm staying til I don't have fun anymore. Right now I'm having tons of fun."

posted by VMICraig @ 10/13/2006 05:13:00 PM 

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Men and Their Stories - Wounded Part 2LCpl Phillip TusseyLCpl Phillip Tussey

Born and raised in Augusta, Georgia, LCpl Phillip Tussey enlisted in the Marine Corps in October, 2003. His first duty assignment with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment would prove to be his most memorable. Deployed to the city of Ramadi, Iraq in the winter of 2006, LCpl Tussey was on foot patrol in one of the most dangerous cities in Iraq when a sniper's bullet found its mark. "I felt something sting my leg. I tried to stand up...I fell to the ground, trying to get myself back up...I put my hand on my thigh and (pulling) my hand back, there was blood on my hand. I knew I'd been hit." The bullet had hit him inside his left thigh, 8 inches below his hip. Two fellow Marines picked up LCpl Tussey and put him in the back of a hardback HMMWV, his squad still under fire. Spent .50 cal cartiridges from the M-2 Browning machine gun atop the HMMWV turrent were hitting him in the face as the gunner provided covering fire to his squad. "They started medevac'ing me. There was only a driver and a gunner in there, so I picked up the radio and was calling the Staff Sergeant, telling him that we were up and that we needed to roll." Despite the pain from his shattered leg, LCpl Tussey remained conscious until he went into surgery at Charlie-med, Camp Ramadi's field surgical unit. Flying out of Ramadi the same evening, he traveled through Baghdad and Balad before flying to Germany, where he spent the following four days in a morphine induced haze. "They put a rod from my hip to my knee in my leg and two screws in my hip to hold the rod in place," described Tussey, who has endured numerous surgeries since his wounding. He's been at the Wounded Warrior barracks since June 28, 2005. "I can't really do much right now, because of the crutches," says LCpl Tussey, although he has not let his limited mobility keep him tied to the barracks. In July, 2006, he traveled to the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, MD with Lt. General Amos, former Commanding General of II MEF, to visit other wounded Marines and sailors returning from Iraq. Encountering a wounded Corpsman from own unit, Tussey recalled the Corpsman's comments upon seeing the unexpected visitors. "The (wounded) Corpsman that we knew couldn't thank us enough. He was so happy (to see us). He said 'you don't know what this means for y'all to come see me.' "

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Men and Their Stories - Wounded Part 3LCpl Peter DmitrukLCpl Peter Dmitruk

LCpl. Peter Dmitruk, an 0311 with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, arrived at the Wounded Warrior barracks in September, 2005. Having graduated from boot camp less than one year earlier, he returned to Camp Lejeune with a career's worth of experience. Deployed to the Syrian border in the summer of 2005, LCpl. Dmitruk became accustomed to the daily grind of snap vehicle check points, presence patrols and security patrols around town. Having just returned from patrol to his company's battle position, he was reaching into his pack which he'd tossed atop the hescoe barrier that provided cover for him and his fellow Marines. "A mortar had fallen pretty close...I didn't hear the mortar, but I felt it. It felt like I kinda got punched. My arm flew up into my body. I looked down and it was mangled...kinda looked like it had gotten caught in a shredder. I could see the blood, which looked like arterial bleeding." A company corpsman laid him down and injected LCpl. Dmitruk with morphine. "I remember laying down on the stretcher, apologizing to everyone for getting hurt. I didn't want to leave." A medevac helicopter landed shortly thereafter and took him to the forward resuscitative surgical suite (FRSS) at FOB (forward operating base) Al Qaim. "I remember asking the Batalion Commander if I could stay...one of the medical officers (was) there; I could see he shook his head, so I knew I was going home. He said 'this is your time to heal, you've done what you can'." His injuries resulted in the introduction of a titanium plate into his arm, a necessity after losing nearly five inches of bone. Skin was grafted from his leg to cover the wounds and hasten the healing process. Following numerous surgeries, LCpl Dmitruk moved into the Wounded Warrior barracks in January, 2006 and has since realized the significance of living there, vice convalescing at home or in his unit's barracks. "I realized that when I'm here (in the wounded warrior barracks), healing is the number one priority...you'll always find a way to get to your appointments. That's the reason you're here, to heal and to get better."

 The Men and Their Stories - Wounded Part 4 (Final)
HM1 Glenn MinneyHM1 Glenn Minney


Although the majority of the Camp Lejeune wounded warriors claim the title "Marine," a few of the residents prefer the nickname "Doc." Hospitalman first class (HM1) Glenn Minney is one of the few sailors who've come to call the wounded warrior barracks their home. A Navy reservist, Minney enlisted in 1985. "Doc" Minney was activated and deployed to Iraq in January, 2005. While serving with 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, he was wounded by mortar shrapnel while standing atop the Haditha Dam, a 10 story high facility that serves as a Forward Operating Base for Marines and Corpsman stationed near the Euphrates River Valley. "It was a typical, hot day in Iraq. I had to go out to one of the CONEX boxes to get supplies for the Battalion Aid Station...and the dam came under mortar attack. I was out on the 10th deck on a catwalk and a mortar round went off about 30 feet in front of me." HM1 Minney remembered running back inside the dam, the unit going to General Quarters as four additional rounds exploded near the dam. At the time, he did not know he was injured. "My vision was a little blurry and I had a severe headache, but I didn't think much of it," Minney stated. The next day, however, his eyes started bothring him, and he began receiving treatments for pink-eye. Unknown to the "Doc", however, both retinas in his eyes had become detached from the concussion of the blast. Blood vessels had ruptured, allowing the vitrouse fluids to leak from his eyes. "I started developing tunnel vision, and it was slowly closing in, becoming pinpoint. I talked to my Battalion Surgeon, and sat him down in private and told him 'I am going blind'." Medevac'd to Al Asad, then to Balad, an opthamologist recommended immediate evacuation to Hamburg, Germany for surgery. His first surgery lasted 3 hours, and he received two more operations before heading home to the United States. On September 2, 2005, while convalescing at home, his vision again went black and he required additional emergency surgery. Still on active duty orders, he was offered the opportunity to move into the wounded warrior barracks in the fall of 2005. "At times, you can't talk to your spouse, your mother, your father, friends, about things they've never been exposed to. Being around people who've been there, and having the medical facility...that's the benefit to having the wounded warrior program. Care is first priorty, whether it be mental, physical or social - we go out of our way to hit all those avenues."