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thedrifter
11-13-08, 10:00 AM
IRAQ: 'I want to be a Marine,' says injured lance corporal

It's common for Marines wounded in combat to want to remain in the corps despite their injuries.

But few have shown the grit of Lance Cpl. Matthew Ryan Bradford, who lost his eyesight and both legs in an explosion in Haditha, Iraq, on Jan. 18, 2007.

The 22-year-old spent months in military and Veterans Affairs hospitals, undergoing surgeries, being fitted for prosthetic eyes and learning to walk on prosthetic legs.

He attended a Marine Corps birthday ball just 10 months after his injury. Now he's taking computer classes.

Soon he will return to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio in preparation for the medical review board that will decide his future. He'd like to remain in the corps, possibly as a liaison with injured troops at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where he was a patient.

"I want to be a Marine — I don't want to get out yet," he told the American Forces Press Service in an article published this week.

He was awarded the Purple Heart by the commandant. "It means a lot to me," he said. "I feel grateful to have it, but I'd rather not have it."

— Tony Perry

Photo: Lance Cpl. Matthew Ryan Bradford, surrounded by fellow Marines at a Marine Corps birthday celebration. Credit: Marine Corps

Ellie