Marine unfazed by war wound
Barry Lemons of Mobile decided to become full-time Marine in wake of explosion in Iraq
Monday, September 18, 2006
Staff Reporter

Cpl. Barry Lemons of Mobile was walking on patrol in western Iraq with fellow Marines when an improvised explosive device planted by insurgents exploded about 8 feet away from him.

"It felt like someone hit me real hard and knocked me out," Lemons, 27, said in a recent interview at the Naval and Marine Corps Reserve Center in west Mobile.

Lemons and other members of the Mobile-based 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company were on patrol in Anbar province during the twilight hours of April 8, 2004, he said. "We were about a mile out of our base at Camp Gannon."

Triggered by remote control, the explosion propelled shrapnel into one side of his left calf and out the other, Lemons said.

He underwent surgery at a U.S. Navy medical facility in Iraq and spent months in intensive therapy at Camp Pendleton, Calif., before being able to walk again without the use of a cane.

When Lemons enlisted in the Marine Corps several years earlier, he entered as a Marine reservist, not as a full-time, year-round, active-duty Marine. But his experiences in harm's way in Iraq inspired him to do something more. So, while back in the States, Lemons joined the Corps full-time.

Lemons said he was moved to become a full-time, active-duty member of the Marines because of the camaraderie. "It's primarily a band of brothers. We eat and sleep next to each other," he said. "We're relying on the guy to our left and to our right as they are relying on us."

The 3rd Force Recon members swapped stories and jokes and talked of their families back home in their downtime, Lemons said. They also went through hardships together in Iraq, such as carrying combat gear that weighed up to 120 pounds under a blazing sun.

Lemons said that during the two months he was in Iraq before being wounded in April 2004, the desert heat soared to 120 degrees under azure skies in the afternoons and often plunged to below the freezing mark at night.

He said the most painful aspect of being wounded was having to leave his fellow Marines behind. "It felt like I didn't complete my job," he said.

The 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, an elite Marine Reserve unit, recently welcomed home 42 of its Mobile-based members from Iraq, said Capt. Stephen J. Taylor, the unit's commander.

Taylor said five detachments from the 3rd Force Recon been deployed to Iraq since the war began March 19, 2003.

Lemons lived in Jacksonville, Fla., prior to moving to Mobile in April 2005 to be a full-time part of the 3rd Force Recon Company. He said he has fully recovered from his war wound, for which he received a Purple Heart.

He said he's ready to go back to Iraq if called to do so. "Every Marine knows there's a certain amount of danger in going over there, but it's a risk you are willing to take," he said. "You know it's there, but you pray nothing happens."