by Chuck Holton
November 17, 2008
They should have killed him while they had the chance.
Marine Corporal Garrett Jones is back in combat, and he’s mad as…well, you get the picture.
While on patrol with his unit, the 2/7 Marine Regiment in Iraq a little over a year ago, Cpl Jones remembers a flash and a cloud of smoke. He was thrown through the air into a sewage canal. After that, things got fuzzy. When he awoke, a chaplain informed him he’d lost his leg above the knee. Jones recalls saying, “I hear they make really good prosthetics.”
Seventeen surgeries and a whole lot of physical therapy now behind him, the tough young corporal is back in battle with his buddies – this time in Afghanistan. He’s one of a growing number of amputees who refuse to allow the loss of a limb to stop them from serving. And Jones recuperated in record time – a little under nine months after his injury, he was training to return to his unit. To do so, he had to prove himself all over again, going through all the same pre-deployment training as the others.
This is, after all, the Marine Corps. They don’t play wait-up.
“My leg popped off a couple of times in the humvee scenario and once when I was leaving a range,” Jones said. “I thought it was funny because ‘How many guys walk around with combat loads and have a leg fall off?’ I still did it to prove that I could deploy as an amputee.”
It’s that kind of spirit that enables him to endure the brutal operational tempo and primitive living conditions that his unit must endure in the Helmand province of southern Afghanistan. And being the first above-the-knee amputee to return to combat with his unit makes him a literal walking legend with his peers.
Jones recently submitted his paperwork to reenlist for another stint with the unit he loves. He also plans to represent the Marine corps this winter in another amazing display of toughness – a national snowboarding competition.
“I love being with the guys, the same people. I really do,” Jones said. “If it wasn’t for the guys in this unit, I wouldn’t be here. It’s an honor to serve with them and be in a place where many Marines don’t get a chance to go.”