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One Marine’s Struggle To Return To The Battlefield

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Video published August 27, 2010 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: As President Obama prepares to address the nation next week on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the casualties continue to mount. Since the beginning of this year, 299 military service members have died in Afghanistan and 2,512 have suffered injuries. The Naval Medical Center in San Diego treats many of those injured.

Audio

Aired 8/27/10

As President Obama prepares to address the nation next week on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the casualties continue to mount. Since the beginning of this year, 299 military service members have died in Afghanistan and 2,512 have suffered injuries. The Naval Medical Center in San Diego treats many of those injured.

As President Obama prepares to address the nation next week about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the casualties continue to mount.

Sergeant Andrew St-Cyr was shot in the leg while on foot patrol in Afghanistan. He is being treated at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego.
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Above: Sergeant Andrew St-Cyr was shot in the leg while on foot patrol in Afghanistan. He is being treated at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego.

Since the beginning of this year, 299 military service members have died in Afghanistan, and 2,512 have suffered injuries. The Naval Medical Center in San Diego is treating many of those injured.

This is the story of one Marine who is working to get his boots back on the ground.

"My name is Andrew St-Cyr. I'm a United States Marine. I have one son who turns four this December. My wife resides out here in San Diego with me."

Andrew St-Cyr is a sergeant with the U.S. Marine Corps who is recovering from injuries at San Diego's Naval Medical Center. While on foot patrol in Afghanistan, he was ambushed and shot in the leg.

"On June 4 this year, three other Marines, myself and one Navy Corpsman departed our forward operating base attached to a 12-man British patrol in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. About 04:30 we departed our FOB and around 10:30 that morning we were ambushed from about two or three different directions. The whole patrol went to push across the road to get covered behind some tall field grass that was there. And when I popped up to move with the rest of the squad was when I took a gun shot to the left thigh," says St-Cyr.

St-Cyr's femur was shattered. The 27-year-old Marine has had eight surgeries since June. He goes to intense therapy three to four times a week at the Naval Medical Center.

Michael Podlenski is a physical therapist working with St-Cyr.

"Nothing's normal here. They're exposed to gun shots and shrapnel and a variety of different things. So we take them as they get here and try to put them back together so they can get out to do what they need to do, or what they want to do," says Podlenski.

St-Cyr is pleased with the care he receives from the Medical Center staff, but he's found the mental recovery to be as challenging as the physical rehabilitation.

"It's always good to be back in the U.S. This is all what we fight for anyway. But it has been hard. I know I sustained the shattered femur, but for me it's been more mentally challenging," says St-Cyr. "Just not being able to get up and do what I want, when I want. You're constantly surrounded by Marines that are also injured, and a lot of them are a lot more injured than me. That mentally breaks you down to be constantly surrounded by people who are affected by this war."

After having served two tours in Iraq and 20 days in Afghanistan before his injury, St-Cyr is eager to return to action when his recovery is complete. Doctors tell him that might be as soon as October.

"I want to re-enlist. I want to do a lateral move into a different job -- a forward observer. I want to be in theater with the rest of my Marines as long as they are there," says St-Cyr.

Correction: A previous version of the story said St-Cyr had four surgeries. He has actually had eight.

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