Mother of a Marine Has a Unique Perspective on Memorial Day

When Quality Insights QPP Project Manager, Kathy Wild, BSN, RN's son became a Marine, and was subsequently injured in the line of duty, Memorial Day became a holiday with a very personal perspective. 

Memorial Day originally honored military personnel who died in the Civil War; however, it now commemorates everyone who sacrificed their life during any war while serving the United States. My oldest son is an ex-Marine who served during the War in Afghanistan, also known as Operation Enduring Freedom. Within the first week of his arrival in country, three men in his unit were killed.  Impromptu memorials made with the fallen soldiers’ boots, rifles and helmets were created to honor them. I am so blessed to say that Paul was not a casualty of that war.
On February 23, 2010, nine days prior to Paul’s 23rd birthday, his military tactical vehicle (MRAP) drove over an improvised explosive device (IED). As a machine gunner, Paul stood in the middle of the vehicle with his head and arms exposed from the turrett. During the explosion he was expelled from the tank like a Pop-Tart out of a toaster (that is how his comrades described it). He flew over 60 feet in the air before landing on his head and right side. 

It was 5:05 p.m. when I saw the caller ID “Quantico” on my house phone. My daughter and I were getting ready to go to her high school basketball award ceremony. Chills ran down my spine, and I started to shake, barely getting out the word "hello." I knew this was not going to be good news.

“This is the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia calling to inform you that your son was injured in an IED blast today.” I didn’t hear anything after that and kept yelling, “Is he alive?”

Paul sustained a head injury, open fracture of his humerus and many contusions and lacerations, but nothing was life threatening. I waited patiently by the phone for the next 36 hours for an update.  Finally, at 5:30 a.m. on February 25, Paul called me from Landstuhl Hospital in Germany. A surgeon had stabilized him and was making arrangements for him to have surgery in the U.S. so he could rehab at home. 

Paul arrived at Bethesda Naval Hospital the following day, where I stayed with him for the next two weeks. I cannot begin to describe how I felt when I saw a ward full of young men with various injuries sustained during the war. Paul’s injuries were minor compared to many of the other soldiers.

I have the highest respect, admiration and love for all military personnel and honor those who have been injured in the line of duty in addition to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. I always go out of my way to say thank you whenever I see someone in uniform. 

The COVID-19 virus is a universal war. Front-line health care workers are risking their lives for us. They are just as brave as the military and are facing this war unarmed. Wearing PPE and following CDC protocols does not guarantee they will not get infected. These heroes should also be honored and remembered this Memorial Day. 

(Pictured is Kathy Wild with the rest of her family, including her son Paul, and then-President Barack Obama. Paul had just received the Purple Heart from the President.)

5/22/2020 12:00:00 AM | 6 comments


Amy W.
I can't imagine what it was like to experience this, especially as a mom myself. God Bless Paul for his service and sacrifice; God Bless all Veterans as well as all of those on the frontlines who are risking their lives to save others.
5/26/2020 2:42:34 PM
Sven Berg
Thank you for sharing such a personal story. The generation that fought in World War II has often been called "The Greatest Generation." Having served in Iraq, helping hundreds of young servicemembers be delivered to life-saving treatment in Germany or in the States, I came away with the opinion that this new generation, all volunteers to defend our country, is the "New Greatest Generation." Please thank your son on my behalf for his service, and thank you for your service and sacrifice as a parent of one of those heroes. You must have done something right!
5/26/2020 2:38:59 PM
April F
What an amazing story - thank you for sharing. And thanks to all who risk themselves for the sake of others. Wonderful picture and what an honor - well deserved!
5/26/2020 2:04:24 PM
Dawn White
Being the daughter of a Marine, I know that they are the first in, last out; and Marines are a special kind of brave. Please thank your son for his service and tell him that he is appreciated more than he could ever know!
5/26/2020 11:33:20 AM
Cynthia C Thumser
God bless our Vets and all those who put themselves in harm's way. Thank you, Kathy for sharing this beautiful story from a mother's perspective.
5/26/2020 10:40:27 AM
Crystal Welch
Big wow. Thank you soooo much for posting. It really puts things into perspective. I cannot imagine getting that phone call. Super proud of your son Kathy! THANK YOU PAUL FOR YOUR SERVICE!!!
5/26/2020 10:30:48 AM
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