Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Men and Their Stories - Wounded Part 2

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.' "

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