By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2008 – Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Matthew Ryan Bradford was part of a patrol to clear an area near Haditha, Iraq, of roadside bombs with the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, on Jan. 18, 2007.
"We found it," he said with a chuckle, admitting that he’d gone about it the hard way. "Another guy got hurt, but he just had shrapnel go through his right calf. I pretty much took the full blast."

The bomb, hidden under a pipe, cost Bradford his left leg above the knee and his right one below the knee. He lost his left eye when a piece of shrapnel went through it and lodged in his brain, and retina damage cost him sight in his right eye. He also suffered intestinal damage.

The shrapnel is still there.

"It’s in a good, safe spot, I guess," he said. "I don’t have to have anything done with it."

The unit’s corpsman did all he could medically on the scene, then sent Bradford to a military hospital at Balad. From there, he was sent through Germany’s Landstuhl Regional Medical Center on his way to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He arrived in Bethesda just three days after his injury and stayed for two months before being moved to the Veterans Affairs facility in Richmond, Va., that specializes in patients with multiple traumas.

From there, it was back to Bethesda to be fitted for a prosthetic eye, then to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio for prosthetic legs at the Center for the Intrepid medical center.

"I walk perfect," Bradford said of his prosthesis. "I’m used to wearing them for like 12 hours a day now."

Bradford, who enlisted in the Marine Corps right out of high school, is taking computer training at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in Chicago. When he finishes there, it’s back to San Antonio to start the medical boards that will determine whether he can stay in the Marines.

Bradford said he knows he won’t be able to do every job in the Marine Corps, but he hopes to stay in uniform because he believes he has something to offer.

"I want to be a Marine. I don’t want to get out yet," he said. "I’m trying to stay in so I can go back to Bethesda and work at the hospital in the liaison office so I can talk to the wounded."

The motivation behind this decision came from experiences during his early recovery when another Marine helped him get his mind off his injuries, he said.

"He came to my room a lot — basically, every day," he said. "Instead of talking about my injuries, we just talked about sports [and] girls."

The conversation was a welcome outlet for the wounded Marine. "At that time, I was going through [thoughts like], ‘I don’t want to live right now. I don’t have legs or eyes,’" he said.

Now Bradford, a former high school athlete, even shoots hoops every so often. He said he also goes to concerts and bars, and does things any 22-year-old does.

The reactions he occasionally gets when he’s out in public bother him, though, he acknowledged. Some thank him, some buy meals for him, and some even apologize for what happened in the course of serving his country.

"I’m like, ‘Don’t be. It could’ve happened to anyone," Bradford said. "[I have] no regrets. I’d go back if I could, but I can’t see."

Bradford’s injuries earned him a Purple Heart, which Gen. James T. Conway, Marine Corps commandant, presented on Valentine’s Day 2007.

"It means a lot," he said of the medal. "I feel grateful to have it, but I’d rather not have it."

Comments

  1. This Marine would be more helpful to other wounded Marines and soldiers than 100 psychologists.He is still a Marine let him teach others.

  2. This Marine would be more helpful to other wounded Marines and soldiers than 100 psychologists.He is still a Marine let him teach others.

  3. Awesome, I remember hearing those gallant awesome stories of Marines of the Olde Days. Marine Heroes are born every Week at San Diego and Parris Island. Semper Fi

  4. mullah cimoc say now ameriki be so destroy. him woman the slut take LBT (low back tattoo, it son the gay homosexual and daughter just slut.
    now economical system suffer each day. usa man the corrupt and now him destroyid and lose everything. all because when usa to killing 1.2 million iraqi average usa man just say “i not to care how many killid if i get the big screen tv and full bottle viagra pill. too many usa man now the feminize and usa be destroyid.

  5. Awesome, Semer Fi, such a brave Marine, That you for all you have given of yourself to keep our country safe, you are a true hero and I honor you, Sheila Soto San Antonio, Soldiers Angels.

  6. Major that young Marine needs to do the job of helping other Marines overcome their injuries.
    He defineitly walks the talk.
    mulla cimoc,
    your rock is calling you.
    seems you left something under it.
    your intelligence.
    guess it must have leaked out while you were hiding for the usa man…known as a US Marine.

  7. Another example of what kind of men join the USMC. It’s no wonder our nation is so grateful and proud of them!
    mulla honey, we can always tell when the good guys score. It upsets all the ones with “a little man’s complex” and they come crawling out from under their safe little rocks. Yeah, that would YOU, f’tard. I’d pay good money to see you go one on one with the Major. Hell, for that I’d spring for a front row seat. And just because I’m sure it needs to be spelled out for you mulla nocock, my money’s on the Marine.

  8. Dear God what makes men such as this? Four simple letters…MCRD. Thank you warrior. You have well earned your place in Val halla.

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