Remembering the Fallen Hero’s of Kilo: On July 24, 2007 Sam was severely wounded in an IED attack in Iraq. There were actually two IED’s that exploded that day—four other’s were killed in the attack: CPL James Heath McRae, CPL Matthew Ross Zindars, LCPL Robert A. Lynch and Doc Daniel S. Noble.
I’m going to create a special dedication page to these young men that will be accessible on the menu at the top of this blog. But for the next couple of post, I would like to introduce each one of them individually to you. I don’t know if I can do these young men justice with the limited information I have, but I’ve felt compelled to add something permanent to this blog in their honor. These men gave their lives for our country. We owe them a debt of gratitude that can never be fully repaid.
CPL. James Heath McRae, 22 is from Springtown in North Texas. He left college and joined the Marines because he felt a calling to serve his country. His mother said he felt he needed to repay his debt to his country by joining the military.
James was born July 6th, 1985 in Springtown Texas. He learned how to fix fences, work cattle and how to repair boats and car engines from his father. He loved to go fishing in the gulf of Mexico and on the stocked ponds of the family ranch.
James wasn’t just a country boy, he also loved music. He played trombone and guitar and was good enough to earn a music scholarship to Weatherford College which he attended for one year.
James’ sister Amy said “my brother was and is a hero, along with the other marines, those who are here and those who are gone. They will forever be in our hearts”.
Sam’s medical status: Aunt Cari and Uncle David visited Sam and Erin on Sunday along with Kelley and one of her sons. Here’s what Cari said about seeing Sam:
When David made a joke to Sam, he smiled a really big smile. It seems like he wants to respond to communication, but may not quite have the “on” and “off” buttons worked out. He squeezed his mom’s hand and wouldn’t let go. He blinked when David asked him questions like, “do you understand us”? His eyebrows raised at certain things. We feel confident that Sam will be talking and walking before we know it! Hopefully by the holidays.
Sam seems more aware every day. Maybe it was all the good company this weekend that got him going? His cognitive functions seem to be getting better—seems like he is understanding what Erin is saying to him more and more. Both Dr. Avi (Sam’s doctor) and his assistant seem very happy with his progress since he has been at the VA hospital.
On Tuesday Sam had another CRS-R (Coma Recovery Scale-Revised) assessment. He was a “9” last week. This week he is a 12 on the scale of 0 to 23. There are lots of factors involved in getting the score which is derived from asking Sam questions or having him perform various task. The next score may be less if he happens to be sleepy at the time of the test, so it is probably prudent to look at the scores over a longer period of time. He was also having a coughing attack during the assessment, so that may have helped or hindered the scoring done by the various therapist.
It’s very possible Sam may get a new trach tube today. They will be changing him from a 8 gauge to a 6 gauge tube. Eventually they will remove it completely allowing for him to talk…or re-learn how to talk.
Sam had a shower for the first time in two months. Previously he was receiving sponge baths in bed. They have a sort of sling device, much like you would use to remove an engine from a car, that helps maneuver him out of bed and into the shower. Erin said he seemed to like the shower and kept trying to grab the wash cloth they were using.
Sacramento Bee Update on Sam’s Progress: There is a very nice article in the Sacramento Bee Scene section on Sam’s recent progress titled Family, faith rewarded with progress. I’ll add the link in this blog. I would like to thank Anita Creamer for writing the article and being so good to our families.