This is an email I received today from Leeann Tweeden who was on the trip to Iraq.
If you can help, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or the other conacts Leeann lists below.
Godspeed Brendan and Michelle. We will get you some help.
Before I go into depth on the reason for this email, I want to take this opportunity to say it was a pleasure to travel with everyone on our mission with American Airlines and Operation Iraqi Freedom a couple of weeks ago. For those that have been before and those that had never been, I think we can all agree it was life-changing.
I realize that our group was split up to reach as many troops as possible, so I'm going to share a story that most of you didn't have the chance to experience.
On our final day in Germany, a group of us got to visit with some very special patients at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. We got to meet a young Marine who had his back broken when his Hummer was hit with an IED but still managed to pull all of his men to safety before collapsing himself. That was the second time they tried to blow him up...all before his 21st birthday. We got to meet an Australian Special Forces guy who was hit in Afghanistan and became a double amputee. He was the life of the party though, with a great sense of humor and his best friend and Mom at his side.
Now comes the story of a young soldier that I think everyone should know about. This is the story of PFC Brendan Marrocco of Staten Island, NY. Brendan was in a convoy in the early hours of Easter Morning when they were hit. Brendan survived the explosion but became a quadruple amputee in the process. This is an excerpt from his Mom, Michelle Marrocco...
Hi Leeann, it is nice for you to keep in contact with me. I am so tired when I get back to the room that I don't make it to the computer, but I am pushing myself tonight. Well 16 days and 9 operations later, Brendan is doing well. He is in alot of pain, but alert and responsive. You asked for a description of his injuries: he had all limbs amputated in the blast. The left arm is below the elbow, the right above. Both legs are above the knee. I am told he is the first "quad" to survive in the armed services. He also had his left carotid artery severed. He was badly burned on his face and had over 75 staples and stitches to his face. He lost several teeth. The left eye is badly injured. He will have shrapnel removed from it Thursday and they will try to restore his vision in that eye. No promises on that.
As I was making the rounds in the hospital, I had heard there was a quadruple amputee that had just been injured in Iraq. I walked around the corner and that is where I met Brendan's Mom, Michelle. She was standing in the doorway to his room, watching the flight surgeons prepare Brendan for the long flight across the pond to Walter Reed. In these situations, there's no guidebook on what to do, so I asked her, "Are you Mom?" She turned and looked at me as if in a daze and said, 'yes.' I introduced myself to her and asked if I could give her a hug. We hugged and cried and she thanked me and said she needed that. I asked her what happened and she told me he was injured in an explosion, and that it was hard to see her 'baby' like that. To top it all off, Michelle is a registered nurse, so she was fully aware of what the extent of his injuries were.
My mind was moving in fast forward and I asked her if she was moving down to live at the Fischer House at Walter Reed. She replied that she wasn't sure of anything yet, but that she'd hopefully find a nursing job so she can still pay her mortgage. Michelle lives in Staten Island, NY, but was determined to be with her son on his long road to recovery. (I didn't mention that Brendan is only 22 years old.) Michelle is also divorced from Brendan's father.
My initial response was to get her information and to use some of my contacts in the Pentagon and Walter Reed to see if I could help her get a job. My dear friend, SMA Preston, is the head of all enlisted personnel in the Army. I have traveled with the Sergeant Major of the Army on USO Tours to entertain our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan the past 3 Christmas Holidays. I briefed him of Brendan's situation and that of his Mom, and the SMA was going to do whatever he could to assist them.
I also started working on ideas with Jim Palmersheim (our fearless leader from American Airlines who is a former Army aviator himself) and Mike Meyer from The Coalition to Support Americas Heroes. Together the three of us are trying to do everything we can to help the Marrocco family and to get the word out. Jim and I discussed auctioning the Tweeden Bunny off and giving all of the proceeds to the Marrocco's.
This is where we need your help. Any donation will help this family that is in its time of need. Brendan represented everything our trip to the Middle East was about. It's up to us to honor his sacrifice and show our continued support when he needs it the most. I know some money has already been sent by Mike Meyer and the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes. I heard that Mary Eisenhower will see the Marrocco's at Walter Reed this weekend, and I will hopefully see them in a couple weeks with the folks from American Airlines while we're in town supporting the G.I. Film Festival in Washington.
I know this trip touched me in ways that will affect me for the rest of my life. I think each of you had a similar experience and I hope we can all band together again and use our money, resources and time to help PFC Marrocco because of his sacrifice and service to this great country of ours. Basically, we're adopting Brendan as our own...
Please feel free to contact myself, Jim Palmersheim (email@example.com) or Mike Meyer (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any questions or concerns. Again, it was a real honor traveling and supporting our troops with each and every one of you.