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05-27-07, 05:26 AM
Marine home recovering
Cuyahoga Falls resident suffers 3 concussions, shrapnel injuries serving in Iraq
By Jim Carney
Beacon Journal staff writer

CUYAHOGA FALLS - Memorial Day will never be the same for Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Malorni.

After suffering three concussions in 45 days from roadside bombs in Iraq, the 20-year-old is home for physical therapy.

``Before, Memorial Day was just another day -- it was a day I had off of school,'' said the 2005 graduate of Cuyahoga Falls High School.

Now, after receiving two Purple Hearts in battle, Malorni knows differently.

Malorni left for boot camp a week after graduation and arrived in Iraq in early January, where he provided security as a machine gunner to an explosive ordnance disposal unit.

He spent a week recovering from shrapnel in the face from the first blast, when three bombs went off within five minutes near him.

Then another bomb went off, causing a concussion, he said.

But the third concussion was the worst.

It happened on April 13.

``The blast hit me in the face. It threw me back,'' he said. ``I smacked my head on the back of the steel plating.''

He was knocked unconscious for two minutes, he was told later.

``It was a massive bomb and it left a crater 6 feet deep and 30 feet wide,'' he said.

After the three injuries, he was left with blurry vision and headaches.

``It felt like 10 fists punching me at the same time,'' he said.

After the third blast, Malorni was sent to a hospital in Germany for a week and a half and he spent another week at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., before coming home.

He now receives physical therapy at Edwin Shaw Rehab in Lakemore.

Malorni's path crossed that of Navy Hospitalman Luke Emch in January when he arrived in Iraq, but Malorni did not get Emch's name when they met.

When his mother, Debbie Malorni, mailed a newspaper story about Emch's death, Malorni realized he had met Emch and that he was the son of one of Malorni's teachers at Falls High -- Wes Emch.

Malorni said he expects to be back 100 percent fairly soon and he hopes to teach Marines about roadside bombs when he returns to Camp Lejeune, N.C.

He said he anticipates going to Afghanistan sometime next year.

His mother said she can't believe her son is home and she knows how lucky he is to be alive.

She said she has been attending a weekly Mass at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Akron, where prayers are offered for the armed services.

When he gets out of the Marines in two years, Malorni said, he hopes to go to college and would like to become a history teacher.

Before he left for war, his friends told him ``freedom has a taste that those who never fought for it will never know.'' Malorni said he now knows what his friends told him is true.

``I thought it was just a saying,'' he said. ``That means a lot to me now.''
Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or jcarney@thebeaconjournal.com.