This story comes from a The New Times article written by Lizette Alverez on July 2, 2010. Apologies to the Times for reproducing the first page of a wonderful seven page article, but I want everyone to get hooked and read the whole story.
BRENDAN Marrocco and his brother, Michael, were constructing a summer bucket list, to get them out and about, trying new things. A Washington Nationals game versus their beloved Yankees — sure, since they were stuck here rather than home on Staten Island. Perhaps a ride on the Metro, with its reliable elevators. Pizza: definitely.
How about going to an amusement park? Michael suggested optimistically.
“Would that really be safe?” asked Brendan, a smirk crossing his lips.
The beach? “I don’t do beach anymore,” Brendan replied. Then what about the National Zoo, the one with the pandas? “They got pandas?” Brendan said, razzing his brother again. “Why didn’t you mention that?”
Clutching a pen firmly in his oversize rubber hand, Brendan Marrocco completed the lineup. A trip to Annapolis, Md. A ride on a boat. And, his personal favorite, firing guns. He drew a miniature picture of a handgun next to that one.
Each would be a major accomplishment for Brendan Marrocco, who a year before had come so close to death that doctors still marvel over how he dodged it. At 22, he was a spry, charming infantryman in the United States Army with a slicing wit and a stubborn streak. Then, on Easter Sunday 2009, a roadside bomb exploded under his vehicle, and he became the first veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to lose all four limbs in combat and survive.
In the nearly 15 months since, Specialist Marrocco has pushed past pain and exhaustion to learn to use his four prosthetics, though he can walk for only 15 minutes at a time. He has met sports stars like Jorge Posada and Tiger Woods — and become something of a star himself here at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where his moxie and humor are an inspiration to hundreds of other wounded service members. He has also met, fallen in love with and proposed marriage to a young woman who sees what is there rather than what is missing, though Specialist Marrocco has lately been questioning the relationship.
Now he is preparing for a rare and risky double arm transplant at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center that could profoundly improve his independence. One of the first things he will ask of his new arms is to drive a stick shift (the one time he got behind the wheel, in an empty parking lot, his rubber hand became unscrewed and was left dangling).
There have now been 988 service members who have lost limbs in combat since the first of the wars began in 2001, but Specialist Marrocco’s many wounds raised so many questions. Would he crumble mentally? Was his brain intact? How would he ever cope with daily needs like eating, bathing, even simply getting out of bed and putting on clothes?Now read the whole story and be proud that we still produce men who are the very essence of manliness.
Spirit Intact, Soldier Reclaims His Life
Then take a little longer and visit the multi-media link and the photo essay of Brendan and his support team.