The Face of a Hero

Sam working out in the gym_1_29_08 on the mat holding up his trunk with very little assistance

I was going to write a scathing email about the Berkeley city counsel supporting a group of misfits who are trying to get the Marine Corps recruiting station thrown out of their town but I would rather not even give them negative publicity because that is how they seem to operate. Instead, I would like to talk about positive people who are making a difference, even when tragedy strikes. Ok—just a few words about the Berkeley issue just to defend the honor of the good people of that town. The parents of a very dear friend of mine have donated a substantial amount of money to the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund in honor of Sam. So lets not put all the people who live in Berkeley in the same “crazy pot” as their city counsel and the misfit group.

Sam’s medical status: The picture in this blog post is from January 29th of this year. Erin sent it to us from her cell phone. The significance of the picture is that, with little assistance, Sam is sitting on a therapy table holding his trunk up by himself. Everyday he continues to get stronger and needs less and less assistance to keep himself upright.

Erin didn’t get a chance to go to Kentfield Rehabilitation Hospital last week, but she is scheduled to visit them tomorrow. Although this hospital isn’t certified by the VA (which takes about 6 months to complete) she said the VA will allow for direct billing. So there is no worry about Sam not being able to be transferred when all are ready. Erin still thinks the move to Kentfield could possibly happen this month.

Sam continues to improve in the auditory front. His swallowing and tongue movement continue to get better. Although he still isn’t speaking, he continues to score very high marks when asked questions.

Sam is improving at working with the peg board via finger and arm manipulation. When I saw him work the peg board for the first time, he was very sluggish and just barely moving the pegs (this was on December 25th). Today Erin told me he is getting so good at moving the pegs on the board, that they have moved him to a board with smaller pegs. The time it takes him to move the pegs is also improving dramatically.

They are also seeing some improvement with Sam’s right leg in his physical therapy session. He has been kicking his leg out on command when in a sitting position (at least his right leg).

In the overall cognitive front, Sam continues to impress everyone. Erin said when she was wheeling him down to the dayroom and past the nurses station, all the nurses said hi to him and he waved back…he even smiled at them as he went by. As they stroll down the hallways, all the medical staff say hi to Sam and he waves and follows them with his eyes. He has become very popular since he has been able to get out of his room…must be those beautiful blue eyes!

Sean Andrew Stokes Memorial Organization

Inspiration of a fallen Marine: There was a very moving article in the Sacramento Bee today about a local Marine from Auburn who was killed in July of 2007, very close to the same time Sam was injured. The Marine’s name is Sean Stokes and his father, Gary Stokes, has honored his son’s life by creating the Sean Andrew Stokes Memorial Organization (SASMO). The organization was established to help the surviving families deal with PTSD and other issues related to veterans issues or the death of their war hero. If you feel moved by his story, please go to their donations tab which will explain how you can help support their cause.

As I was looking through the SASMO web site, I was really impressed by their philosophy concerning our countries involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is so easy to take a negative opinion and blame the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen who are serving their country (e.g. the Berkeley city counsel) . If I run across a person like this, I always remind them if it weren’t for the young men and women who volunteer to serve and die for their country at this time in our history, there would be a draft and they, their children or grandchildren may be fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan instead.

Here is a quote from the SASM web site:

*SASMO believes that our soldiers, who have volunteered to answer our country’s call to serve overseas, who follow the decisions of the policy-makers without question and are willing to give their lives in that pursuit, should all be defined as heroes. Other people may have different opinions about this and they are welcome to their opinions, but what is more heroic than giving your life for the something that has been agreed upon, by the majority of those who decide policy, for the greater good of the country? We believe that these fallen heroes should be honored, and not ever forgotten, by all–whose lives have been enriched and benefited from the freedom gained through the sacrifices these heroes have made. We also believe that the surviving families should be supported, as their sacrifices are life-long and unending. They, too, have given the ultimate sacrifice for our country; the sacrifice of losing a loved one whom they will miss for the rest of their lives…

Please continue reading the rest of the quote on their web site. It is a very compelling and thorough explanation of the rational behind one’s decision to join the military. It also helps us all to understand why, when you look at the picture of Sam at the top of this blog, you are in fact, looking at the face of a hero. This is the face of a young man that has volunteered to defend his country. This is the face of a young man who would gladly give his life to defend the free speech of the Berkeley city counsel and the organization that is trying to kick the Marine Corps recruiting station out of their town.


8 Responses to The Face of a Hero

  1. Katie says:

    I know that it has taken a long time for you to put pictures of Sam up on this page for obvious reasons. But I would like to say thank you, on behalf of my husband who thinks about Sam and Erin everyday. My descriptions to him of how Sam was doing didn’t quite click until he saw actual pictures of Sam. I know what my husbands thoughts of the military life and “war” were before his trip to Iraq with Kilo, and after experiencing the things he did and seeing the actual effects of that day still affecting many families especially yours, has really made life more real for him. He now knows he is not invincible. We pray for you all everyday and I know all the men that are with Kilo think of you everyday as well. Your lives have touched millions.

  2. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hi Sam, Erin & Family!

    What a picture. Sam you look GREAT!! With each and every entry it seems that you are doing more and more and continuing to rack up some serious miles on your journey to recovery. Great work Sam, keep it up – you’re doing great! And keep up the great work too Erin – hang in there. Please never forget that thoughts, prayers, support and tons of angel hugs are sent your way each and every day. And they always will be.

    As for the good for nothing misfits and schmucks on the Berkeley city council, well I’ll take this tack – since I have nothing nice to say about them I’ll say nothing at all. Plus there would be a few choice words in what I’d have to say that I really shouldn’t use on Ash Wednesday.

    Sam, you are a hero. A true American Hero. And a miracle too. God bless you Sam, all of our heroes who do and have protected us, for our wounded warriors & their families who continue to make immeasurable sacrifices, and for our heroes & families who have given all for us, our way of life and our freedom. Not one shall ever be forgotten. God bless you all and thank you all. It would be impossible to thank you all enough. Ever.

  3. Lori Peoria says:

    Sam and Erin you are both inspirations. Sam you are looking good! Love the eyes! Don’t worry Erin, I am old enough to be his mom! ;P Keep staying strong and Erin, please take care of yourself and get rest or a manicure! You are always in my thoughts and prayers!

  4. Hello…I just wanted to check in again, and say that we are still praying, and trusting that God will continue to bring Sam to a whole man again. Whatever the outcome, God is in control, and now and then, I plan to look at the picture of Sam, and picture him totally healed!!! IN THE MIGHTY AND POWERFUL NAME OF JESUS! AMEN!

  5. Carol Thomas says:

    I thought you might be interested in the actions of one company in response to Berkeley’s city council vote. Trusting other businesses will follow Mr. Dennard’s lead.
    (I recieved this as a forward and perhaps should of run it through Snopes.)
    Everyone I have talked to can not believe Berkeley has taken such a stand. Sam & Erin our prayers are with you and all the others at all the hospitals. Everyday I also look at the recently posted picture of Sam and pray for his total healing. That the smile on the top picture will match with the present.

    Berkeley to Marine Corps: You’re Not Welcome

    BERKELEY, Calif. Local officials in this liberal city say it’s time for the U.S. Marines to move out.
    The City Council has voted to tell the Marines their downtown recruiting station is not welcome and
    “if recruiters choose to stay, they do so as unin-vited and unwelcome guests.”
    The measure passed this week by a vote of 8-1.,2933,327347,00.html

    Contact the city council at Berkeley, CA via email:

    Now check this out: here is a letter a businessman wrote to the Mayor of Berkeley.
    Is this a great country or what?
    Dear Mayor Bates,
    In that you and your city have chosen to gravely insult the brave men and women, who have indeed bought you that right with their blood, I am informing you that my company will no longer do business with any of our current suppliers located in the Berkeley,California metro area.
    In that my company is in international resort real estate development, and do business with and am associated with, developers and investors worldwide, I am informing all of my contacts, associates and patrons that we will no longer do any business of any sort with anyone living in the Berkeley area.
    In that we/MDG Resorts are currently building a state of the art mega-yacht marina, all of the suppliers of Marina equipment, all owners of Yachts , all suppliers of yacht materials & supplies, all yacht brokers and all tangential yacht business purveyors will likewise be informed that we will not do any business whatsoever with anyone from the Berkeley area.
    Likewise all suppliers of building materials, both interior and exterior, currently associated with any of our several resort developments (Brisamar 300+ villas and 200+ condos: Porto Hussong, 500+ condos, 180 slip mega-yacht marina) both of which I might add have international recognition by virtue of glowing reports in Robb Report, Wall Street Journal, Yacht World, Forbes.
    I will likewise inform all of our investors, most of whom are very wealthy yacht owners, casino owners, high net worth international businessmen, of our decision to essentially boycott all products and providers located in, or associated with in any way whatsoever,Berkeley, Ca.
    Trust me when I say that having been in the real estate development business for over 35 years, our list of contacts and associates is long and very, very impressive. We, and I personally, are going to recomend that they ALL along with us boycott your city, its purveyors, suppliers, and businesses and CHARITIES of every kind.
    You have every right to choose to take the obnoxious anti-military stance you have taken, and as stated, that right was bought for you with the blood of better men than you.
    I too have every right to do all that I can to insure that your city suffers consequences arising from that obnoxious, sickening stance.

    Brian G Dennard
    Principal Director
    Meridian Development Group, LLC
    619 807 2444

  6. cpl joseph moore says:

    keep it sam!

  7. Jeannine says:

    Sam is without a doubt a hero, and so is Erin! And, as the quote says, there are many others and their families who we love equally, and give our hearts to too. With hopes always, you are our inspiration.

  8. Aunt Joy says:

    Sam and Erin, I just want to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day. We know that you and your comrades are HEROS Sam. We know what sacrifice you have made, we know that because God is gracious and merciful, all powerful and loving that Sam will be healed and that we will triumuph in the end. We love you both so much!!

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