Daily Life of a Marine Mom

A Piece of My Heart is home from Iraq


Wednesday, April 26, 2006


I am sorry to say that my finacee's father lost his long fight to recover after his heart surgery this morning (he had the surgery about 6 weeks ago). We got word that he passed away peacefully about 8am. They don't really know why he died yet but he wasn't feeling well last night when Rick went to see him. I am still at work but Rick and his brother and sisters are with his mother right now. Its harder on them now because he had started to get a lot better and was up and moving around at the rehab center they had sent him to when they let him out of the hospital. Rick thought he was trying harder to get ambulatory so he could go home. Please keep Rick, his mother Rosie and the family in your prayers as we all deal with his loss for the next few days.

Thank you and God bless.

I did get some uplifting news from Jamie today about Ben. I am sharing this email with you (below my post in blue) but I since I don't have permission to share this particular Angel's name I have removed names from the post.

I think it is important to first update you all a little about how Ben came to be hurt. Just a couple of weeks before 3/7 Weapons Co (Ben's company) returned from this deployment in Iraq, a Humvee that Ben and his buddies were riding in took a direct hit with a mortar which pretty much destroyed the Humvee. Ben was one of the lucky ones, he walked away with minor cuts and bruises, but the mental toll of sitting on the side of the road after that attack with one of his fellow Marine brothers and friend brains leaking into his hands (Ben's words to his mother) took on a whole different aspect of the anguish a Marine can suffer for Ben. He not only lost that particular friend to this attack but another of his friends died from the injuries he received at the same time too.

This was the second HARD deployment in a row for Ben. After the first deployment, where he also lost brothers and friends, he was hard hit and it was tough for him to bounce back to the loving kind person he was. More than likely he suffered from the all too common PTSD to a certain extent (although I don't think he was ever actually diagnosed or treated for it). His mother had a hard time too, seeing the changes that war and death had wroth in her oldest son but she stood by him and he was ready to go back for this second deployment.

Thus .. when Ben returned from Iraq this time he immediately did what many of our returning Marines do and he got together with his buddies and they proceeded to drink away their sorrows, try to drown the bad memories and celebrate being back on American soil once again. For returning soldiers from Iraq .. it is VERY important that they stay somewhere safe till they acclimate back to being in the states. Unfortunately for Ben and his family (and us as his extended family), it is policy at their home base to allow the returning Marines a 96 hour leave during which time they can be with their friends and family and leave the base. Then they go back to base for a 2 week acclimation period before getting post-deployment leave. You have to understand that while they were in Iraq they are taught to NEVER stop moving. A standing target is just that .. a target with a big red circle on it. So when they get back they are still in that survival mode that has kept them alive for some many months (this is especially true for infantry Marines since they are on the front lines).

Ben had only been back on American soil for hours when something happened that made Ben run into the highway in front of the hotel they were at. I won't get into specifics ... but it was just a senseless and horrible accident, and this is the important point, that was precipitated because of what he was used to doing in Iraq to stay alive. Ben was used to things in Iraq being much different, Marines NEVER have to stop for anything, everyone else in Iraq stops for THEM. I truly believe that this accident was caused by his time in Iraq as surely as if he had been injured there. So just because he was hurt near his home base ... he is just as much an injured American hero as our soldiers that are injured during deployment.

Now .. on to the GOOD news! Prayers are WORKING for Ben! Below is the email that Jamie received recently from one of the Soldiers' Angels that is visiting Ben and keeping Jamie updated on his progress. Thank you Jamie for giving me permission to pass on this good news!

Hi [from Ben's Soldiers' Angel] !

I saw Ben this afternoon. He was heavily sedated. Apparently he is very agitated this mornings and they doped him up to keep him calm. (Must be much easier for the nurses that way... )


He blinks in response to a question. He really does! I told him you needed to know if he could blink in response to a question.

I said "Ben, I need you to blink if you can understand what I am saying" and he did.

Then I waited for a while and told him to do it again and he did.

Eventually after about 15 minutes, he got tired of playing and dozed back to sleep but we played for a while.

EVERYTIME I asked him to do it, he would do it.

Someone else can try it, but he was looking at me out of the corner of his eye and following my directions to the letter.

He also turned his head away when he didn't want the nurse washing his face anymore. Nurse admitted that was a participatory movement.

Okay, you know how I told you sometimes when I am talking to Ben about you he tries to say something...Does what I call his 'Elvis' lip curl that would be the beginning of a word if you were heavily sedated....

He about came out of the bed when Jim arrived. And he moved his mouth in a way different from how he does when I think he's trying to say 'Mom' or 'Race'......I think he was trying to say 'J'......he ended up having a coughing spell (who knows what he could say if the Trach wasn't in there??!!)

but it was just waaaayy toooooo spooky for that to be random....there's NO way that was a coincidence......he knew someone (someone important to him) was in the room and absolutely reacted...he was like a different patient...then he fell back to sleep...

Ben really likes Jim. Jim is WONDERFUL FOR HIM!!

He isn't as overheated anymore, his lips look alot better, his abrasions are healing, his hair needs cutting or something, and Jim is involved with Ben's feet....I see big differences because I don't go everyday....

Tomorrow the neuro nurse we talked about is coming.

I definetly saw responses today. I can also tell he likes some people and not others....he won't bother with some and will for others...must be tiring any ways...I think he works for me 'cause he knows I talk to you....he works for Jim 'cause he likes him (you can't NOT like Jim - he's just one of those people) but Ben ignores the nurses....that's why they don't see anything....

[End Email]

I want to say a big thank you to the Soldiers' Angel that is taking the time to go and visit Ben AND keep Jamie in the loop on Ben's progress. This is probably one of the hardest things for Ben's mother since he is so far away from her and she needs to be at home to care for Ben's much younger (preschool age) brothers and sister. In any case Ben is showing definite improvement. Thank you God! Hopefully there will be a website set up for Ben and his family later this week for anyone that would like to make a donation. The donations will be mainly to help Ben's family spend more time with him for the present I believe. He has five brothers and sisters, the three youngest are very young with the baby just turning six months old. Ben's mama has her hands full all the time.

Keep Ben and his family in your prayers if you pray. They need all the help they can get and I am positive that the prayers for Ben are working!

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