MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Whether wounded on the battlefield or resting in a military hospital back home, injured Marines have always relied on the support of their fellow service members and loved ones to motivate them on the often rough road to recovery.
Nineteen-year-old Lance Cpl. Brian Floyd received more than a few words of encouragement from his family, but a unique understanding of the trials he faced as a wounded combat veteran of the Global War on Terrorism in Iraq.
“It’s a family tradition to serve our country, no matter what branch of the military we do it in,” said the infantryman with 1st Combined Anti-Armor Team, Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, explaining how every member of his family is or has been a member of the nation’s armed forces. “We’ve always supported one another, and it feels great to have them by my side when things like this happen.”
The Jacksonville, N.C. native referred specifically to the encouragement his loved ones have given him throughout the past six months, a period of time marked by numerous surgeries and physical therapy sessions.
Floyd, a 2004 graduate of Terry Sanford High School in Fayetteville, N.C., was wounded in action on May 1 near Fallujah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his vehicle.
“I’d been manning the gun turret at the time,” he explained. “The armor shield right in front of the gun broke (during the blast), and a shard of metal slipped underneath my Kevlar (helmet). I ended up taking shrapnel to the head and in my left hand. I got knocked out, and the next thing I remember was waking up at (the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.)”
From that time on, Floyd said his family was there to lend him a helping hand.
His father, Army Sgt. Maj. Willie Floyd (retired), pinned the Purple Heart Medal onto his son’s chest here Nov. 16.
“I’m so proud of Brian’s dedication to duty, and also extremely grateful to his corpsmen and command for taking care of him,” Sgt. Maj. Floyd said after the ceremony. “They did what they had to do to get him off the battlefield that day, and they’ve given us back that fighting spirit that Brian possesses.”
Also present at the ceremony were Lance Cpl. Floyd’s mother, Army Staff Sgt. Georgette Floyd; two brothers, Lance Cpl. Willie Floyd and Peter Floyd; and two of his aunts, Army Sergeants First Class Elizabeth German and Ta’Juanna Denmark. They had traveled from bases in Fayetteville and Fort Benning, Ga., to see their wounded Marine presented his medal.
“After what he (Brian) has been through these past few months, I’m the one who looks up to him now,” said Floyd’s older brother Willie, who is also based here and serves as a machine gunner with 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment.
Currently, Floyd resides at Camp Lejeune’s Wounded Warrior Barracks while he receives what he said will be his last surgery. He said he eagerly waits to return to full duty to once more fight alongside his brothers in 1st Battalion, 6th Marines, and that he never lost his passion for the Marines.
“I’ve wanted to be a Marine since I was 12 years old,” Floyd stated. “I’m hoping to do 20 years in the Corps, and maybe even more, because there’s nothing else for me to do in this world.”