3/12/2004 11:45:00 PM
A Hero Among Many
Bob Herbert in the NY Times gives a great portrait of the sort of person who defines "selfless"
Hector Delgado joined the Marines in the spring of 1999. He was at loose ends in his hometown of Selden, N.Y., and hoped the Marines would give his life some "structure and discipline."
"Did it work?" I asked.
Corporal Delgado shifted his upper body in his wheelchair and laughed. "Oh, absolutely," he said. "One hundred percent."
His enlistment was supposed to have been up last March, and his plans were to pursue a career in law enforcement. He'd taken and passed the test for the New York City Police Department and was due to enter the police academy last summer.
But the U.S. went to war with Iraq, and Corporal Delgado's enlistment was extended. "They were pretty much preventing people from getting out," he said. "I was disappointed at first. But I had to sit down and really think about who I was, which was a marine, you know? This was my job."
You caught the wheelchair reference?
Corporal Delgado was in the first wave of troops sent to Iraq and was severely injured in April 2003. He was with a convoy of vehicles, including fuel tankers, that had stopped outside Nasiriya. "All the fuel tankers were staged next to each other," he said. "Everyone was trying to sit in between them to get out of the sun because it was like 105 degrees that day.
"There was a lot of heavy equipment around, shaking the ground. And a tanker trailer really isn't all that sturdy in the sand. I had my friend Corporal Gonzalez sitting to my left, and all of a sudden I just started hearing metal crinkling and everybody yelling: `Get up! Get up!' "
Somehow the supports holding up the tanker that had been shielding Corporal Delgado and others from the fierce desert sun gave way.
"It landed on top of me," Corporal Delgado said. "On top of my waist."
If Corporal Delgado is harboring any bitterness, I couldn't detect it. There were times, he said, when he wished he had died beneath the trailer. But he fought his way through the mental distress, just as he is fighting through the physical pain, and his goal is to one day walk again. He'll be discharged from the Marines soon and hopes to find work helping other disabled veterans.
"That's one way I could repay all the people who are helping me now," he said.
I approach these articles with a wary eye, looking for the poitical angle that often lies beneath the surface or between the lines. I practically held my breath reading this one, given that it's the New York Times, after all. I didn't see it. So I agree with Rich Lowry
, kudos to Bob Herbert.
Herbert mentions the Wounded Warrior Project
which at a glance appears to be a worthwhile advocacy group. I'll look into them a bit more and may add them to the banner links in my right column. There are several military-related charities listed there. I'm also looking into adding Soldiers Angels
to that list.
There's no paypal link on this site, by the way. So those who are so inclined can hit one of those charity banners instead.