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September 28, 2005
An Amazing Marine Wounded in IraqBy Holly Aho
This is the story of a marine you should know. His name is Kyle Anderson and he was wounded in Iraq last year when he was hit by an IED. He had been in Iraq for little more than a month when he was injured, and he had just turned 19. Let me tell you why Kyle is someone you should know.
Kyle's story starts before he was injured - this background merely highlights why he is someone to know besides being wounded in Iraq. Kyle was the all-state wrestling champion in Minnesota the year he graduated high school. He is one of the few to be in the all-state championships 5 years in a row instead of 4. In eighth grade he was allowed to be in the championship because of his abilities. Kyle is not a big guy. He is about 5' 10" tall and maybe 175 pounds. But he is such a strong willed and strategic thinker that he excels anyways.
Before leaving for Iraq Kyle's platoon had some sporting games on the beach in California. One of the competitions was wrestling. The matches were to 'hold and subdue'...basically wrestle till one of the opponents admits defeat. The winner moves to the next opponent. Kyle wrestled for more than 2 hours, with some opponents as large as 6' 8" tall and 250 pounds. He never lost.
Kyle's unit suffered quite a few casualties while in Iraq, but morale hit a low when Kyle was injured. He was a hero to all the men in his group - for the stories mentioned above as well as his attitude, kindness and humility. Kyle was thought to be dead as soon as he hit the ground after the IED exploded. Once it was clear he had somehow survived the blast it was a sure bet he wouldn't last very long - and off he was sent to Germany for medical treatment. His unit mourned.
Kyle's injuries were mainly to the back of his head. He ended up losing the entire left side of his brain after all was said and done. I had the privilage of meeting his commander, who was with Kyle when he was hit. Kyle was guarding a building at the time of the injury, and as his commander ran to him and held Kyle while waiting for transport he told me and Kyle's family that he thought Kyle would never make it. Kyle's injuries were gruesome and extremely severe...kind of like a shotgun blast to the back of the head.
Kyle was stablized, but infections from shrapnel held his life hostage. Finally, in an effort to remove all infection and prevent further infection his doctors decided to remove the entire left side of his brain. Kyle was in a coma for months afterwards, but his will to live was incredibly strong.
The prognosis for Kyle initially was grim. He might never wake, or if he does he might have extreme brain damage and never make a complete recovery. Kyle decided to prove everyone wrong. Kyle is fully conscious now, and is his normal self. He still has obstacles to hurdle, such as speech, reading and writing...but other than that his recovery is nothing if not amazing. Here's just one example - Kyle's parents were told by doctors that memory is stored in the left side of the brain, and since Kyle was now missing that part he surely had lost all memory of before. Kyle's doctors were wrong...Kyle has no memory losses, and his doctors are at a loss to explain how this is possible. The brain is an amazing machine.
Kyle doesn't think he's a hero, and he'll get angry if you push the issue. He believes he was just doing his job. He has no regrets about joining the military, no regrets about serving in Iraq, and is not despondent over his injuries. He was there to do a job and he did it. To him 'heroism' doesn't fit in the picture. Of course Kyle is not happy that he has the injuries he does, but he doesn't blame anyone for them.
I have been visiting Kyle in the hospital for about 7 months now. Despite his inability to speak, he can communicate quite well. I am honored to be able to visit him and call him a friend. If you are not a regular reader of my blog, Soldiers Angel - Holly Aho, you may not have heard of Kyle before. I highly recommend reading the following posts to learn more about him, he is inspiring!
How I first me Kyle - How It All Began for Me, Journey of an Angel
You can also learn much more detailed information about Kyle (including a photo) and his journey from injury to recovery here. These updates, written by his family, also give a clear idea of what it's like to have a family member injured while in Iraq.
Posted by Holly Aho / September 28, 2005 4:02 AM | Permalink
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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