Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wounded Marine Returns Home

     It was 4 a.m. in the morning when I awoke. I'm not a very good sleeper. The first thing I thought about as I looked around in the darkness from my bed was of injured U.S. Marine Corporal Grant Cantrell III whom I photographed the day before.
U.S. Marine Corporal Grant Cantrell.
     Cantrell had just arrived home to a hero's welcome by family, friends and his Marine Corps buddies. It was the first time he was returning to his home after being severely injured when the vehicle he was in drove over an IED which exploded in September 2011 while on deployment in Afghanistan with the 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Division.
     It was also the first night he would be sleeping in his own bed at his Chester County home after eight difficult months of surgeries and recovery from wounds on his feet, legs and a traumatic brain injury.
     I wondered if Cantrell was sitting up in bed thinking about his future now that he is forced to walk with the assistance of a cane. He has the support from many during the days, but in the quiet of the night he is alone with his thoughts.
Cantrell returns home.
     Cantrell is only twenty-two and for a young man, he has also endured the loss of his father due to cancer. He returns home as the man of the family to his mother Sandra and his sister Robyn.
     He left home as an eighteen year old boy. And the Corps has turned him into a Marine. He has been part of two deployments oversees, served his country but has suffered injuries that will complicate his life.
     During his return celebration, Cantrell smiled and cordially greeted everyone who stood in a long line to shake his hand wanting to show their gratitude for his duty. At times you could see him grit his teeth and take a minute as his wounds reminded him to take it easy.
     And though his feet were hurting, he carried on in true Marine Corps spirit, not wanting to change from his uniform shoes into more comfortable hospital issued ones until practically ordered by his gunnery sergeant.

Marine Cpl. Grant Cantrell with his mother Sandra.
   Seeing his old unit friends was his best medicine. There is a strength within their brotherhood that can't be taken away because of wounds inflicted by a foreign adversary. These men have bonded for life and many may have to return to a battlefield that won't include Cantrell.
     But even after suffering injuries he said that he wouldn't change his serving in the Marines. And the one thing Cantrell was determined to do on his return home was for his mother to see him walk again. Some tears were shed by his mom as they hugged each other.
     Her son was home and able to stand on his own two feet as a man. 'Welcome Home' Corporal Grant Cantrell III.

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