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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Lance Cpl. Ryan Cahill, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, is presented his Purple Heart Medal here Nov. 30. The 19-year-old Baton Rouge, La. native suffered shrapnel and other wounds in September after an improvised explosive device detonated near the vehicle he had been driving, causing it to tumble into a nearby canal. Cahill and his teammates had been conducting an IED sweep in Karmah, a city outside Fallujah.

Photo by Cpl. Mike Escobar

Looking on the bright side: Baton Rouge Marine on the road to recovery

6 Dec 2005 | Cpl. Mike Escobar

A Baton Rouge, La. native was presented the Purple Heart Medal here Nov. 30 for injuries he suffered while deployed to Iraq in September.Lance Cpl. Ryan Cahill, an infantryman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, and several members of his unit had been searching for improvised explosive devices in Karmah, a city outside Fallujah, at the time he was injured.“The IED went off about five to 10 yards from the humvee I was driving,” said the 19-year-old Cahill. “There was a lot of confusion that followed, because I didn’t know where anyone else was,” he continued, explaining that his surroundings were ‘smoked out’ from the dust and debris the blast had kicked up. “The shrapnel had come up from underneath the humvee. I ended up with a nice-sized piece of shrapnel lodged (on the underside of) my right knee.”Cahill, a 2004 graduate of Tara High School, added that his humvee continued coasting for approximately 80 yards further. He was unable to see where he was going and had lost mobility in his right leg. Shortly after, the vehicle tumbled into a nine-foot deep canal running alongside the rural road.Cahill was subsequently sent stateside to receive medical care, and he currently resides at the Wounded Warrior Barracks here. Under the care of the Injured Support Unit (ISU), he claimed to have experienced an 80 percent recovery, a number that increases as the weeks go by.Within this barracks, Cahill said he and fellow rehabilitating Marines are given ample time to relax and recover as they attend their surgeries and physical therapy sessions at the nearby sports medicine clinic.Cahill cited this care as a determining factor in his recovery.“The program here is really awesome,” he said. “I feel I’ve received the best medical attention possible. I’ll be back to full duty eventually.”Nevertheless, he often deals with boredom and restlessness as he waits to someday rejoin the infantry. He jogs, lifts weights and converses with his fellow Marines to spend what he describes as his ample free time.“Sometimes it seems like there’s nothing to do here, but at least we’re getting plenty of sleep,” Cahill stated. “I know some of the guys in my unit who are still over there would give anything just to spend one day in my shoes.”“Every day has its ups and downs, and sometimes, I start wondering if I’ll ever be able to do everything the way I used to,” he continued. “Whenever I get down about something, I think about that and remember that I still have my leg, so I really have no room to complain.”