Patriotism and freedom: Four young men who ‘got it’
By Denise Crosby email@example.com July 3, 2012 2:20PM
U.S. Marine Kyle Moser of Oswego with his dad Bob.
Updated: August 5, 2012 6:10AM
When Bob Moser watched the NATO protests on television earlier this spring, he found himself wishing those young street marchers could spend just a day at Walter Reed Hospital.
All they would really need was an hour or two, going up and down the halls and witnessing the sacrifices so many other young people have made “so you can go down Michigan Avenue saying America sucks.”
The wounded warriors at the medical center in Bethesda, Md., may be missing arms and legs, but they still have smiles on their faces. “To watch them as they encourage each other through rehab ... it’s something to see,” Moser said.
When I spoke to the Yorkville man earlier this week, he was back in Bethesda for his son’s most recent surgery. Kyle Moser has been going through arduous medical procedures and rehabilitation for over six months, after losing both legs and part of his right hand in a November IED explosion in Afghanistan.
The surgery on Friday to save his right-hand pinky finger and give him flexibility in that wrist is important because it will allow Kyle to drive the adaptive vehicle he and his wife Alexandra recently purchased. With his good left hand he’ll be able to steer the truck. But he needs use of his right hand for the brakes and accelerator.
Kyle — who came close to dying after needing 19 blood transfusions during the initial treatment for his wounds — has had a few setbacks in his otherwise remarkable recovery. This most recent surgery, first scheduled for March, was put off until now because of an E.coli infection — not all that uncommon when you consider the dirt and filth that comes when a roadside bomb explodes. He’s also experiencing pain where his temporary prosthetic is attached — probably fluid build-up or an internal blister. But it will have to be taken care of to continue with rehab.
The Marine is working with two sets of temporary prosthetics: shorties, that help him learn balance; and the full length. He should be getting his permanent prosthetics in about a year — a pair for walking, and another pair for running.
Bob Moser said his son sometimes gets discouraged by the setbacks, but for the most part his spirits are amazingly upbeat.
He and the other patients at Bethesda know how lucky they are to be alive.
The stories of other young men from our area did not turn out as well. Alex Martinez, a 21-year-old Elgin Marine, died in combat in April while serving his second tour in Afghanistan. Three months earlier, Chris Patterson, a 20-year-old North Aurora soldier, died after a roadside bomb exploded in Afghanistan.
As Patterson’s mother Mary watched those NATO protests, she too couldn’t help but think about her son, who firmly believed in the importance of putting your life on the line so others can express their beliefs.
But it was more than that, she said. When one of her son’s battle buddies was home on leave, he told her “Chris got it. He knew why we were in Afghanistan. We needed to be there clearing those roads of the bombs so the Afghani people would finally be able to leave their villages.”
“Patriotism is not just about keeping America safe and free,” she said. “To Chris, it was also about helping others.”
It’s almost the same thing friends said about Martinez who “just wanted to help people.”
Which brings me to Nathan Knutson, the young GI who came home last weekend to a smalltown hero’s welcome in Newark after being seriously injured by an IED just a few months after arriving in Afghanistan. His father Dennis told me how much he still believes in America after seeing the way so many people — the community, the staff at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, the Freedom Riders, members of the Wounded Warriors Project — came together to help his son and the family.
“This country was founded on people working together,” Knutson said. “No government program is going to replace community. If we lose that, then we are in trouble.”
Certainly there’s lots of discussion going on these days about how our country is going down the tubes. You might be one of those doing all the complaining. I know I am. We read today’s headlines about the still staggering economy, political bickering and a pension system no one seems interested in tackling — and we mostly see red.
It’s people like Chris Patterson, Alex Martinez, Kyle Moser and Nathan Knutson who remind us to add the white and blue.