Brendan Marrocco

“I cried because I had no shoes; until I met a man who had no legs”.

Brendan Marrocco has no legs. He has no arms, either.

He left them in Iraq.

A little over a year ago, Specialist Brendan Marrocco, then PFC, was driving an armored Hum Vee in a convoy near Baiji in northern Iraq, when a IED blew up, ripping the vehicle apart, killing his best friend and seriously wounding another soldier. A fourth soldier walked away, unharmed.

When Brendan was taken to the hospital, he also had a severed carotid artery. Doctors didn’t notice it at first, because it wasn’t bleeding. It wasn’t bleeding because Specialist Marrocco had no blood left to speak of, having lost 80% of his blood supply in the field.

Brendan Marrocco now lives at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center complex. His older brother quit his high paying job to serve as a caretaker for Brendan. They share a small apartment near where Specialist Marrocco receives physical therapy.

Amazingly, he did not suffer any brain damage from the bomb blast or the subsequent loss of blood. He was the first soldier to survive the loss of all four limbs in the Wars on Iraq and Afghanistan. Since the attack on Specialist Marrocco, a second soldier has suffered a similar fate, and he too lives at Walter Reed.

The amazing and inspiring part of this story is not that Brendan Marrocco survived. It is that rather than lose himself to his war wounds, Specialist Marrocco has become an inspiration to all those around him, maintaining a positive attitude and even a sense of humor about his situation. At the Walter Reed complex, he is seen as a hero to other amputees, including the Marine that also lost all four limbs.

Where does someone faced with such adversity summon the courage to not only deal with the loss, but to become a role model for others dealing with severe war wounds?

This is the face of war. It is not the caskets lined up in the cargo bay of a transport. It is not pictures of presidents and generals. It is not the cold statistics on the page of the newspaper. It is not Senators and Congressmen debating the funding and strategies of the Wars.

The face of war is a 23 year old Army Specialist that is broken, but not defeated.

Specialist Brendan Marrocco is the face of war.

(The thread photo is of Specialist Brendan Marrocco outside Walter Reed.)

William Stephenson Clark


Filed under WAR

9 responses to “Brendan Marrocco

  1. People like Brendan Marrocco have a valuable lesson to teach! These amazing people seem to be able to make the best of the hand they were dealt, and have you noticed how they always give back? It’s a lesson we all need to relearn on a daily basis.

  2. WSClark

    Read more………………………

    “Spirit intact, injured Iraq vet reclaims his life”

  3. tosmarttobegop

    It is the aspect of war that often seems lacking in the loud and chest thumping of the war hawks.
    The real face of war, oh but they admit they are aware of the face! But that is the price to be paid for the over-all benefit of war.

    “In war innocent people die and/or suffer life altering wounds, that is war!”.

    That is why I am often upset at how Iraq and Afghanistan is covered in particular how it is reported the deaths and injuries of soldiers any more. Simply and unemotional numbers, like a “1” was killed today.

    Not a human being or a son or a brother just a static number with no real lost.

    What choice does Specialist Brendain Marrocco have?

    Handed the shitty end of the stick and for his sacrifice he more often if not only gets everyone’s pity.

    He has to be his own best ally, he lost his limbs and can not stand to lose any more of who he is.

    No one else can give that back to him, he can receive fake arms and legs from others.

    But not from one of us can he receive his self worth without it seeming more pity then real value.

    To look at him it is inescapable, we see someone that is without and feel sorrow for what has been taken fro him. To think of him as an example of the cost of war and the examine of the reasoning and what it was about.

    But it is not our judgment that is important since our opinion is lost with the next issue that is in the forefront. It is to him his own worth not the worth of the action that took his limbs.

  4. I read an interview with this author about his new book, “The Wisdom of Sam.” Here’s a snip, but if you follow the link there is an excerpt of his book.

    Family therapist and call-in radio host Dan Gottlieb has helped many people through some of the most difficult passages in their lives. He’s also endured a great deal of physical and emotional pain of his own: More than 30 years ago, a car accident left him paralyzed from the chest down.

    Four years ago, Gottlieb wrote a series of letters about being different to his young grandson Sam, who had been diagnosed with autism. The letters were collected in Gottlieb’s book, Letters to Sam.

    Gottlieb has now authored a second book about his unique relationship with his grandson, called The Wisdom of Sam: Observations on Life from an Uncommon Child. Gottlieb details how seeing the world from a different perspective is illuminating for both grandfather and grandson.

  5. From my quote of the day gadget:

    “Most people would rather be certain they’re miserable than risk being happy.” — Robert Anthony

    Do you suppose the grumpy people we run into too often are this afraid? They spread fear so maybe that’s all they have. And do you suppose Brendan Marrocco and others like him who inspire us are the ones who continue to take risks because they’ve faced fear and conquered it?

  6. WSClark

    My purpose in writing this column was to highlight the basic story of Brendan Marrocco and link the longer article from the New York Times.

    The Times piece is quite well written and details so much more of Specialist Marrocco’s trials.

    I thing that I did find in the article that was fascinating, while being gruesome to contemplate, is that Brendan is scheduled for a double arm transplant. As soon as a suitable donor becomes available, he and his brother will travel to Philadelphia where five teams of surgeons will attach two new arms.

    God bless Brendan Marrocco.

  7. The amazing part of the story to me is that Brendan isn’t concentrating on his trials and troubles, he’s moved beyond that point and is doing what so many people with all the advantages he doesn’t have seem not to be able to do — make a productive life.

    • WSClark

      His sense of humor about his lack of limbs is awe-inspiring. To joke about having “enough leg room” on an airplane is classic.

  8. indypendent

    Maybe the real story of this remarkable young man is his ability to look outside of his own circumstances and still be reaching out to help others?

    This is a true testament to the phrase ‘no man is an island’.

    Human beings need the interaction and that is sometimes the only thing that keeps us going.

    Which brings me to my point – exactly what type of interaction does this young man have with others. It must be very positive energy flowing.

    Sometimes I look around the different blogs, listen to Fox News and talk radio (albeit in very small amount periods of time) and there is so much negativity.

    Negativity is a cancer and cancer will destroy anything and everything that it touches. Cancer does not care if you’re rich or poor, white or black, male or female, or any other different groups one can think of – cancer kills.

    And that maybe the lesson we need to learn from this young man – to reach out to everyone and just try to make a difference in someone else’s life?