Sunday, May 28, 2017

America's Veterans--I HONOR THEM ALL!

By Natalie Sherman
Friday, November 11, 2011 - 
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America’s veterans say they want the nation they served to pause this Memorial Day to reflect on the heroes who walk among us and those for whom walking is no longer possible. They want us to remember the men and women that remain in harm’s way, still on the field of battle.
Lance Cpl. Evan Reichenthal, 20, of Princeton had dreamed of being a Marine since the seventh grade. He enlisted in July 2009 and by December 2010, he was in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, with 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines. This is his story:
“It’s a third-world country, very basic. It’s extremely hot during the day and cold at night. It’s deserts, emptiness, the occasional farmland.
“I was an infantryman. Our mission was to clear out the Taliban, hold what we’d gained and build infrastructure. Clear, hold, build. We’d get intel and we’d go out and get Taliban ... You get used to being shot at. You just adapt.”
On Jan. 5, 2011, on patrol with his 12-man squad in Marjah, Reichenthal was thrown in the air when an improvised bomb exploded under his feet.
“I stepped on it and somehow I didn’t lose consciousness. I was conscious the entire time. I hit the ground 20 feet away. I landed and lifted my head up and my right leg was gone and on my left, the skin was hanging off the bone. My right arm was bent behind me and the skin was hanging off my shoulder ... I knew I wasn’t OK.”
As Reichenthal screamed, his squad ran to help.
“They came over to me and they took one look at me and it felt like they froze, but it was only a few seconds. They dragged me to the helicopter and they kept knocking me on the face. They knew if I were to go unconscious, I’d probably be dead.
“It puts life into perspective when you almost die—when you really almost die, not just your cell phone is out of service or something. When I walked again, it was the best feeling ever.
“Not a lot of people know what goes on anymore. They have no concept of it ... They need to be reminded of what we do and remember what we do ... There’s some guy out there, laying down, dragging his buddy to a helicopter.”
Reichenthal spent six months at Bethesda Naval Medical Center and has undergone 26 surgeries. He took his first steps in May, and as part of his rehab at Brockton Veterans Affairs hospital, he’s learning how to snowboard. He hopes to start college next fall, and someday would like to teach history. Yesterday, he was honored by Boston’s Semper Fidelis Society on the Marine Corps’ 236th birthday. In a quiet moment, he pointed with pride at the Combat Action Ribbon and the Purple Heart on his chest.
“These I earned with blood.”