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 Local Marine Wounded In IED Blast

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HartAttackKidd
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PostSubject: Local Marine Wounded In IED Blast   Mon Mar 21, 2011 6:54 pm

Quote :
Keyser, W.Va. —

By Richard Kerns
rkerns@newstribune.info
Tribune Staff Writer
KEYSER -- The call crossed half a world and arrived in Keyser, W.Va. the same day 200 pounds of explosive detonated beneath a 6-ton transport hauling a load of Marines through the wasteland of Afghanistan.
“I’ve got good news and bad news,” the Leatherneck said to high school sweetheart now his wife. “The good news is, I’m coming home. The bad news is, I got blown up.”
Lance Cpl. Richard Charles “R.C.” Pancake relayed the news to Autumn (Alt) Pancake with the swagger of the Corps, the oak-strong bearing of proud Mountain State stock, and the technology of a military establishment well versed in the care of warriors wounded. Best to hear it from the loved ones themselves, whenever that’s possible.
The Marine’s lady, who signed up for duty equally daunting as the spouse of one who goes in harm’s way, could not bring herself to tell her husband’s father, Richard. As word went out as well to R.C.'s mother, Keyser resident Jackie Durr, Autumn called Richard's wife, who got hold of the elder Pancake as he drove the Garrett County back roads, in search of carpentry work among the vacation homes of Deep Creek Lake.
“You need to pull over,” she said. “I need to tell you something.”
In the light speed that darkest fear barely kept at bay unleashes upon such words, Richard thought the worst. Even when told that his son was still alive, that he’d broken his back but had some feeling in his legs, and was even then flying stateside, Pancake steeled himself to a hard truth that he fear lay hidden behind the stoic bravado tattooed to Marines like the Eagle, Globe & Anchor branded on their hearts.
How bad would it be?
After his first visit to the Bethesda Naval Hospital, upon finding his son conscious, if a bit doped up from the pain killers, truth was indeed revealed to the Keyser native. His son’s body was broken, but still in one piece. It could be worse, he quickly realized. Far, far worse. Every glance about the hospital revealed the flower of American youth, grievously torn asunder by war. Blinded. Deafened. Amputated.
“I am so blessed,” Richard said. “I am so fortunate.”
In an interview Friday afternoon at Martie’s Hot Dog Stand in Keyser, where the March Madness brackets are taped to the wall and the fine fare features all-beef dogs declared among West Virginia’s top-10 best, Pancake recalled one of the wounded he saw from a gas station outside the hospital. Not content to use the sidewalks, a man about the same age as R.C.’s 21 years was maneuvering down a “goat path” at the edge of the hospital grounds, his wheelchair nearly immobilized and perilously close to overturning. He was without both legs and one arm.
Others at the pumps watching him struggle remained motionless -- “Maybe waiting for a YouTube moment,” Pancake ruefully speculated of the detached urbanites – but the West Virginian “couldn’t take it anymore” and went to the aid of the young man, who gratefully welcomed his help, gave him a hearty thank-you upon being freed the mire, and struck out at high speed for parts unknown; body mangled, spirit unbowed.
R.C. Pancake’s wounds, while not as grave, are nevertheless severe.
Roll of the Dice
The military has an acronym for everything, and the improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, employed to devastating effect in Iraq, now bedevil American forces in Afghanistan. Buried in the dirt roads that traverse a barren, hostile landscape, IEDs often feature armor-piercing artillery shells that can toss the heaviest trucks to the air, and incinerate their occupants. They are sometimes detonated by remote control, enemies lurking in wait for the next patrol.
Pancake was in the fifth and last of the big troop transports kicking up dust Tuesday, March 8, barely 30 days into his 13-month tour. And he had to be figuring that luck was on his side, because just the day before he’d been driving along a similar path when his Humvee was hit by one of those buried bombs.
Richard said R.C. walked away from that one with “a slight concussion,” and a scar on his nose that was altogether fitting and proper for a Pancake. The elder conceded to more than a few nose breaks incurred in some of the Mountain State’s finer establishments.
“Being a Pancake he's used to 'recreational violence,' Richard said with a grin. “And Marines are tough.”
As the trucks rumbled, Pancake the younger must have comfortably wondered: What are the odds of getting blown up two days in a row?
Pvt. Sam Watkins of Tennessee memorably recorded the scythe’s fickle fall in his Civil War journal, Company Aytch, when a man 2 feet to his side utterly disappeared to shot and shell, yet he escaped unscathed. Or how the GI waist-deep in the bloody surf of Normandy rose in relief and celebration at the German machine gun round that ricocheted off his helmet in the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan, only to catch the next round in his face.
As the battlefield accords no sanctuary from the grim fact that snake eyes sometimes comes up twice, R.C. Pancake was blown up again that next day. Only this time he couldn't walk away. No one was killed, but at least one of his comrades is now at a burn center in Texas. The explosion threw Pancake with such force that he broke his back, in his father’s words, “shattering” a lower vertebrae.
R.C. is in an immobilizing harness now, and although initially paralyzed, has feeling in both his
feet. He has not walked since the explosion. However, the prognosis is good. With expertise honed over nearly a decade of warfare, the medical staff at Bethesda expects a rapid recovery. He could be home within a week or two.
“It's like a scratch to a Marine,” Richard said. “He might not even see a wheelchair.”
Autumn has been with her husband ever since he arrived at Bethesda. “She hasn't left his room,” Richard said.
The Few, The Proud
A fire burns in some so that there is no other branch of the service to be considered. Thus did R.C. Pancake enlist in the Marines, reveling in the bright autumn of youth the summer of 2008 after graduating from Keyser High School, then shipping out to Parris Island that fall.
Stationed at Camp Lejuene, N.C., he longed to be deployed to the front in the war on terror, and on the bastards who spawned 9-11. Call-ups came and went, yet Pancake’s unit remained stateside. Finally, the young Gyrene volunteered for Afghanistan, and the military bureaucracy obliged.
“He wanted to go 'Get some,'” Richard said.
The United States Marine Corps has had 35 Commandants since its founding the year before the Declaration of Independence was signed. One afternoon in Bethesda, the 35th appeared bed-side in Pancake's room, four-star Gen. James Amos pinning the Purple Heart to the corporal’s hospital gown.
“There was so much brass in there it hurt your eyes,” Richard said of the assembled Marine officers.
Also on hand at Bethesda was the commander of allied forces in Afghanistan, and the architect of the “Surge” that helped turn the tide in Iraq, Army Gen. David Petraeus. The general gave R.C.'s parents a shield-shaped medallion featuring his signature and command title.
R.C. plans to stay in the Marines, and the military will work to make it happen, reversing a long tradition of mustering out the seriously wounded. Even amputees, outfitted with the latest prosthetics, are welcomed back to active duty. Richard said he was told at Bethesda that wounded warriors are “the new norm” in the U.S. military.
“He's still got a job in the Marines,” the father said of R.C. “He just has to heal up.”

If you guys haven't figured it out by now, R.C. is an extremely close friend of mine. He is now in Maryland, someplace I cant spell is the towns name. Hes a really great guy, and an even better Marine. This young man, is one of the few people left in this world that will always give a damn about everyone. If you could, please keep him in your thoughts.
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Cmdr. Michael
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PostSubject: Re: Local Marine Wounded In IED Blast   Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:05 pm

Wishing him the best, don't worry, I'm sure all of us are.
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HartAttackKidd
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PostSubject: Re: Local Marine Wounded In IED Blast   Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:18 pm

Thanks Cmdr Michael. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Local Marine Wounded In IED Blast   Mon Mar 21, 2011 8:28 pm

No prob. Smile
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thebronxbomber
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PostSubject: Re: Local Marine Wounded In IED Blast   Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:58 pm

Oh man...that's tough. I love his attitude and patriotism toward this country. I'll keep him in my prayers.

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PostSubject: Re: Local Marine Wounded In IED Blast   Tue Mar 22, 2011 5:42 pm

OhhRahh! Thanks Bronx. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Local Marine Wounded In IED Blast   Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:16 pm

Wish him all the best, I agree with Bronx that his attitude and patriotism is amazing.

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PostSubject: Re: Local Marine Wounded In IED Blast   Tue Mar 22, 2011 8:26 pm

Agreed with Bronx also.

(Super, I still can't stop laughing at that avatar pic)
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HartAttackKidd
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PostSubject: Re: Local Marine Wounded In IED Blast   Tue Mar 22, 2011 10:29 pm

Thanks guys. Haven't heard alot about RC yet, just that hes still pretty in shock about it all, being home is a rough transition for him, and all of us.
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