MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Like many of his brothers-in-arms wounded in the line of duty, Lance Cpl. Brandon Love stoically accepts his fate while looking to the future with hopeful eyes.
Love, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was presented the Purple Heart Medal Nov. 30 for wounds suffered while conducting combat operations in Iraq’s Al Anbar province in September. But despite the heavy weight of what this award represents, the 19-year-old native of Charlottesville, Va. spoke only of recovering and getting back in the fight.
“I’m still motivated, and I hate being over here knowing that I still have friends over there (Iraq),” said the 2004 Waynesboro High School graduate.
Love added that he wished to rejoin his comrades, but that a long, uncertain road awaits him toward this goal. He recalled the events of Sept. 23, and how, in the blink of an eye, his life was forever changed.
He and several of his teammates had been driving in a convoy outside of Karmah, a city outside Fallujah. Love said he had noticed a black Jeep Grand Cherokee that had pulled over on the side of the road, something military forces ask Iraqi citizens to do for the safety of the passing convoys.
“It blew up when we were about ten feet away,” Love recalled, adding that the vehicle-borne
explosive injured seven people in his humvee.
“I woke up, and there was blood and smoke everywhere. All I could feel was this warm, sticky feeling running down my right arm,” Love continued. “I didn’t know what was going on, so I just got my rifle and held (perimeter) security until the helicopters landed (to evacuate the wounded Marines).”
Medical personnel later explained to him that he had suffered shrapnel wounds to his right arm, and that the blast had blown out both of his eardrums.
Love was sent stateside to receive further medical care, and currently resides in Camp Lejeune’s Wounded Warrior Barracks. He is pending further medical review to determine whether he is to be medically discharged from the Corps.
“I still have shrapnel in me, and I can’t feel half of my right hand,” Love stated. “I can’t straighten it out or close it all the way, and I can only type by moving my whole arm around, not just my fingers. I can hear fine out of my left ear, but my right one is still not as good as it used to be.”
Love said he hopes to be given extra time to recover, and to one day be evaluated as fit for duty.
“I need to get better and get back to duty, but if I can’t be combat effective, I don’t want to hold my unit back.”