Over the past four--almost five-- years, I have been apart of a military family. No, I myself am not a military "brat," though my father served in the Air Force in the mid-seventies (aka long before my time, ha).
This military family started with one person and has evolved into many friends over the years. I consider myself very fortunate to have met some of the nicest people, and my now closest friends, because of the military.
For those of you who know me (and more importantly, those of you who don't) I somehow always end up being drawn toward men in the military. I know, so many of you are laughing right now. I believe my father even joked with me about whether or not I even knew any civilian men. Even if the relationship is nothing more than male companionship, I usually end up spending my time with 'men in uniform.'
I'll admit it. There is a certain something about military guys: their purpose, what they stand for, and their dedication and commitment to a selfless occupation. This selfless service to protect is where any military person completely amazes me: to them, it is just their job. Nothing more, nothing less. It is their calling to serve and protect. Sometimes, even if that means throwing themselves in the line of extreme danger-- and most of them don't think twice about it.
This is where I would like to put a name with the description above. Some people know him as Johnny Joseph Jones. Others, JJJ. To me and those who grew up with him, he is Joey.
Joey is a Marine and an EOD Technician. He deployed to the Middle East earlier this year with a mission to disarm IEDs (roadside bombs) and return home around November. On Aug. 6, 2010, Joey and two others were hurt when a roadside bomb blew up. One companion of Joey's did not make it, the other had shrapnel wounds, and Joey had to have both of his legs amputated with also severe damage to his arms.
My heart broke the moment I got the news, as I know it did for so many of us. I had been in DC for one week with my new job. I couldn't think of what to do or really how to feel. I walked six hours that day taking a ridiculous amount of pictures.
But the joyous news for me came when I learned he would be coming to Bethesda, Maryland. I live in Hyattsville, Maryland, about 8 miles away (in DC traffic, that is about a 25 minute drive). The point being though, he was coming here.
He would be one man, right here.
I patiently waited to go see him. I wanted to go day one, but I knew I had to wait. Tuesday, August 31, I made my way to the Naval Hospital to go see Joey. My stomach had all these little butterflies and I kept asking myself if I was ready (as a friend) to see him.
It is funny how things turn out and how God always has your best interest in mind. I got off the Metro (train) and ended up getting lost for an hour in another area of town. Ha, no I am not kidding. I couldn't be mad though because when I walked into Joey's room, oh did I have a story for him!
And that is how it went. I entered to Joey's smile and a nice big hug from him, and his mom, telling him how I spent the past hour looking for him. His response was something to the effect of "Well, I haven't gone anywhere, I don't know why you couldn't find me."
He is still the same old Joey. I sat on the end of his bed and we talked like old times. I could tell he was in a lot of pain, but he never missed a beat. He hasn't changed nor has his attitude on life and his future. He has already been fit for his prosthetic legs and mentioned that he will probably build up his arms and core first, and then go for his new legs.
I joked with Joey about how I knew he wanted to get home early and see everyone, but that this really wasn't the way to do it. He then proceeded to tell me he jokes with the nurses, asking them if they will scratch his toes.
Ha, did I mention that he hasn't changed much? :)
He is a Marine. He doesn't want the fame and glory for his sacrifice-- he was simply doing his job. BUT he does appreciate and is very thankful for all the love and support from everyone.
I am going to start visiting at least once a week now that I know he is doing much better. Please check the blog for updates on how he is or what silly things we talked about. I know that I am very lucky to be so close to him, so the least I can do is share his progress. Joey is in high spirits and is one of the strongest people I have ever met, but then again, if you know Joey at all, then that shouldn't surprise you either.