Thomasville family welcomes injured Marine home -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Thomasville family welcomes injured Marine home

 April 2, 2007

Thomasville--  For Eric Fletcher, enlisting in the Marines after graduation seemed a natural step. "As you can probably see around my house, my grandfather was a Marine, my brother was a Marine.  We have a lot of family history.  And of course the war had just kicked off when I graduated high school. I wanted to do my part," says Fletcher. 

Fletcher first went to Iraq as an infantryman. Going back as a sniper, he saw a lot more action. On his 21st birthday, a road side bomb left Fletcher with minor shrapnel injuries, but a bad concussion.  "They let me go back to full duty, but I was never allowed to ride on the outside of the humvees anymore, I always had to be on the inside.  So, they took good care of me," he says.

For his mom, Trish Buckhalt, everytime her son was away was hard.  "You can not describe the level of anxiety you're at, when your son or daughter is in a hostile, overseas environment," she says.

Difficult as it was for his mom, Fletcher returned to Iraq for a third time this year.  On March 16th, Fletcher was traveling with six other Marines on a night mission.   Fletcher explains, "we don't really know what exactly happened, but they think we spooked two or three insurgents that were about to place a roadside bomb."

The insurgents threw 2 grenades.  "One hit the middle of the patrol, which wounded our radio operator, he took shrapnel in the arm. The other grenade, landed pretty much right on me," he describes.

The grenade destroyed the main artery in his left leg, destroyed 50% of his Achilles tendon, and left him with a broken hand.  "And a piece of shrapnel in my neck, you can probably see it right here," Fletcher adds. 

Now Fletcher has to go through weeks of physical therapy but is happy he gets to do it at Archbold Hospital. 

He's already thinking about what he'll do next. He can't wait to attend college.  "I'm thinking about medicine, studying medicine, being a doctor, but we'll see, you know," Fletcher says. 

His mom will support anything he wants to do with his life. Her one wish has already been granted.  "I don't want anything, just knowing that he is right here, or wherever he needs to be is unbelievable," Buckhalt says. 

Fletcher's mom, Trish Buckhalt, a nurse, right now is enjoying taking care of her son. Later she'll look for a job in Thomasville. The family has lived in Thomasville less than a year but say the community has been extremely supportive.



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