There is Sgt. Eric Morante, a squad leader who had a bridge collapse underneath him when a suicide bomber detonated 3,000 pounds of explosives. His leg was snapped back beneath him and had to be amputated.
His chief ambition is still to become a drill sergeant. Missing a leg, he arranged for the Marine Corps logo to be painted on his prosthesis. "I was back on my feet in three months," he says proudly - but he still faces all-day therapy.
There's Gunnery Sgt. Blaine Scott. A little over six months into his second deployment in Iraq, an IED detonated underneath his vehicle. He suffered burns on 40% of his body, including his face.
He's been in rehab for 16 months, with "too many operations to count." Despite reconstructive surgery, his face still tells of wounds. But this Marine's Marine is 1,000 miles away from self-pity: "Hey, this is what I do for a living, this is what I chose."
His priority now? Working with new Marine patients to bolster their spirits.
There's also Lt. Col. Grant Olbrich, who heads the local Patient Affairs Team from the Marines' Wounded Warrior Regiment.
He calls the Center for the Intrepid "wonderful" and the Army hospital "very supportive of Marines."
But he also notes that Marines do miss their own culture. Part of that culture is the Corps Commandant's position on severely wounded Marines: "If you want to stay in the Corps, we're going to find a way to keep you."
Lance Cpl. Chris Traxson was on a Humvee patrol in Fallujah when a bomb struck the underside of his Humvee. He ended up with third-degree burns over 56% of his body, and struggled with coming to grips with his injuries.
His parents had been at his bedside for two weeks before he "really" woke up in the burn center. Now he's determined to move on: "For a long time, I was pretty depressed . . . for four or five months . . . but over time I came to grips with it: This is my new body."
Sgt. Jose Martinez is a Force Recon Marine. He took shrapnel to the eyes when a bomb went off after a sniper team he had been working with was dealing with insurgents.
The retinal damage to his left eye limits him to three inches of vision. The right eye's stronger, but his peripheral vision is gone and the discrepancy between his eyes prevents him from wearing corrective lenses as he walks. He's at a point where further operations would only risk the vision that remains.
The sergeant calls himself lucky: Others died. He's alive, with a girlfriend he adores and college ahead. "Whatever I decide to do, I'll get it done," the Marine said.
Make sure to read Ralph Peters' entire column. It's an incredible piece: moving, inspirational, and it will touch your heart.
These men, and countless others like him, are our heroes. Take the time to help them and other wounded soldiers.
You can donate to the Warrior and Family Support Center project via credit card by phone at 1-888-343-HERO or on the Web at ReturningHeroesHome.org.
To give by mail, send donations to:
Returning Heroes Home
P.O. Box 202194
Dallas, TX 75320-2194
Checks should be made out to Returning Heroes Home, Inc.
This holiday season, maybe you can find the time and generosity to give one more gift, to someone you probably don't know and will never meet. But that stranger is laying in a hospital, injured defending our freedoms. They deserve our support (God knows they won't get it from the