Marine: ‘I’ve got the world at my prosthetic feet’

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Marine Cpl. Tyler Southern celebrates Aug. 20, 2010, after returning to his home in Jacksonville, Fla, after being wounded in combat. (Photo by By Bob Self/Florida Times-Union via the Associated Press)

The Huffington Post launched a 10-part series today called “Beyond the Battlefield,” promised as an “exploration of the physical and emotional challenges, victories and setbacks that catastrophically wounded soldiers encounter after returning home from the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.”

If the first piece is any indication, it’ll be a good one. Respected defense reporter David Wood focuses on Cpl. Tyler Southern, who was an infantryman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, on May 5, 2010, when his body was rocked by an improvised explosive device in Now Zad district.

Southern was nearly killed and lost both legs and his right arm — but he has endured.

A key passage:

He was unconscious for 14 days after being blown up. “I went to sleep on the 4th [the night before the blast]and I woke up on the 18th in Bethesda,” he said. “In between, I don’t remember a thing.”

When he did claw his way into consciousness, no one knew if he would awake with his full brain capacity or whether his near-death experiences had left him in a vegetative state. Doctors urged him along: “Say your name, Tyler. Say your name.” No response. “Tyler, say your name!” Nothing. His mom stood watch at the foot of the bed, gripping the rail. Finally she burst out, “Tyler! Say hi to your mama!”

Tyler stirred.

“Hi Mama,” he croaked.

Tears streaming, she bent over him, shielding him from the sight of his missing legs. “You were injured in Afghanistan,” she whispered. “You’re missing both legs and one arm. You’re okay.”

Compare that with the version of Southern that we see in this video:

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Southern’s assessment of his current life is remarkable.

“If anything, this would be Chapter 2,” he said. “This is page one of Chapter 2. You know, I did my adolesence and my childhood, and now I just got married recently.

“I’ve got the world at my prosthetic feet.”

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About Author

I’m a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.

4 Comments

  1. Where else?? Where FN else but in the United States military do you see such spirit?? No where in the UNIVERSE ..!! This soldier is an icon…God Bless him…

  2. God bless this brave soldier and may God be with him during time of healing. This truly touched my heart and he is in my prayers.

  3. Bless you and your family…may your spirit shine brightly so that it will be the beacon of light for all wound warriors…Thank you.

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