MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
On Christmas Day 2009, Lance Cpl. Ruben Wright awoke in a hospital bed in Afghanistan.
His left shoulder was badly damaged; his right shoulder was injured but to a lesser extent. He sustained injuries to his upper, middle and lower back and his brain was gradually swelling from the concussive blast of an improvised explosive device.
As he gained consciousness, he wasn’t sure where he was or what had happened. He was stunned and far removed from his last memory of one loud ‘boom’. He woke up with his body connected to monitors and intravenous drips. It was Christmas Day, and he was away from his Marine brothers out on patrol.
Wright had never been injured in his life. As an up and coming wrestler with a scholarship to Darton College in Albany, Ga., he had a vision for himself. Go to college, earned by his wrestling ability, earn good grades, graduate with a business degree and provide a good life for his family. His ultimate goal was, and is still, to be a Marine officer and own his own business.
His scholarship to Darton College put him in near proximity to Detachment 2, Supply Company., 4th Supply Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve, where he had signed up as a reserve supply warehouseman, and fairly close to his home in Palatka, Fla.
Forward through months of training in Virginia, North Carolina and California for deployment preparation, Wright headed to his first war-time duties in Iraq.
Life was harsh, but not as bad compared to others. He worked the overnight shift in a warehouse. He was part of a team that moved equipment from Al Asad Air Base to Al Taqaddum. The equipment was filtered out of Iraq and headed stateside or to help his brothers in Afghanistan.
A few months later he was like the equipment he processed, and he himself followed the equipment to Afghanistan.
In Afghanistan life changed from the larger and more secure bases in Iraq. He was now with an infantry unit and expected to be more than a warehouseman. He would have to guard the base and go out on patrol with his unit.
After serving with 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, Combat Team 3, he joined up with 3/10 after 3/11 rotated out of country.
Working out of a small warehouse, he was often called upon to patrol the outlying area of the base and guarded its perimeters.
On December 22, 2009, his base began receiving sporadic small arms fire from outside the gates. One day later a patrol was formed to quell the barrage of gunfire.
“The day before we were taking fire. We were rallying up to patrol and evaluate the problem. As we rallied, we started taking fire again,” Wright said.
According to Wright, he had to move across an expansive field, which exposed him and members of his unit to Taliban gunfire. As he moved across the field he observed an animal set off an improvised explosive device on the other end of the field.
Along the field were a series of ditches. His only choice was to seek cover in one of the ditches as he moved.
“One of the ditches looked too suspicious, so we chose the middle ditch,” he said. “As we moved forward another Marine and I were pinned down by enemy fire. The sergeant major moved over to us and told us to move forward.”
As Wright moved forward and advanced on the enemy he was situated in front of his sergeant major.
“What I remember is hearing a boom then waking up in the hospital. I was within five meters of him. He was behind me.”
The sergeant major lost both legs in the IED blast and is still undergoing physical therapy at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Wright on the other hand has recovered well despite his numerous injuries.
He suffered from a traumatic brain injury, injured both shoulders and sustained injuries to his back. Injuries that was so severe that he was sent to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, for physical therapy and further testing.
Despite his injuries he still maintains a smile on his face and Esprit de Corps in his heart.
His plans have changed since his injuries. His wrestling scholarship is on hold until he can fully recover from the IED blast, and he is focused on raising his daughter and getting married in the near future.
Family is his priority now, but he maintains that it is still his wish to remain a Marine and is not afraid of any future deployments.
“As a Marine you have to expect the unexpected. And you have to always be prepared and ready,” he said.