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Marine Continues To March Forward Despite Loss of Left Leg

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2006 – Cpl. Jordan S. Pierson, 22, is an unquestionably loyal and determined Marine. Despite the loss of his left leg due to combat injuries sustained in Iraq Dec. 7, Pierson is set upon returning to active duty.

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As first lady Laura Bush looks on, President Bush hugs Candace Pierson of Auburndale, Fla., after her son, Marine Cpl. Jordan S. Pierson, was presented the Purple Heart for injuries suffered while serving in Iraq. The ceremony took place Dec. 21, 2005, at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. Also in the room are Cpl. Pierson's fiancee, Kirstin Martin (right), and sister Rachel Pierson. White House photo by Paul Morse
  

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"I just re-enlisted on Jan. 7. I'm ready to get back to the fleet and start working," Pierson told American Forces Press Service during a recent National Guard Youth Foundation-sponsored dinner here.

Pierson has served three tours of duty in Iraq. During his most recent deployment there, his convoy was returning from an operation near Ramadi when it was attacked with two roadside bombs. The second explosion mangled both of Pierson's legs, killed a comrade and severely wounded several other Marines.

Pierson's left leg was so damaged it had to be amputated in Iraq. His Iraq tour with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, had ended. The stricken Marine was sent stateside -- first to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., for about a month and then to Walter Reed Army Medical Center here -- to heal.

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush visited Pierson during his stay at Bethesda shortly before Christmas. The president presented the Marine with the Purple Heart Medal, as Pierson's mother, Candace, and his fiancee, Kirstin, watched.

Pierson first served in Iraq during the invasion in March 2003 and departed in September of that year. He returned in February 2004 for another tour of duty that ended in September 2004. He returned to Iraq in September 2005 for his most recent tour.

Some might think that experiencing three dangerous tours in Iraq and the loss of a leg would be enough to put a person into a permanent funk. Not Pierson, who these days gets about on a prosthetic leg. "I'm moving around -- with a cane right now, but I'm moving around," the Sturgis, Mich., native said.

"He's coming around really fast, a lot faster than they'd expected," said Pierson's mother, Candace, who attended the National Guard dinner with her son.

Candace, who lives in Florida, couldn't help beaming every time she looked at her son in his crisp Marine dress uniform. "I don't even have words to say how proud I am of him," she said.

Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, Pierson's escort and a guest speaker at the dinner, also had good things to say about Pierson, who joined Youth Challenge, a National Guard youth achievement program, to get his general equivalency diploma before he enlisted in the Marines shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

"I think he's a national treasure," Blum said of Pierson. "You talk about the 'greatest generation' and you usually think of World War II. I'm not so sure you're not looking at the greatest generation in Jordan Pierson."

Pierson plans to teach Marines about his hard-earned combat lessons gained during his deployments to Iraq.

"I got three tours' (worth of) experience," Pierson said, "I can prepare other Marines to get them ready to go back. That's what I'm going to do.

"If I get to one person, I may be able to save their life," he said.

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Related Sites:
National Guard Youth Challenge Program

Click photo for screen-resolution imageNavy Adm. Timothy J. Keating (right), commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., praises Marine Cpl. Jordan Pierson (far left), as Army Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau; Pierson's mother, Candace (center); and his older sister, Emily, look on at the National Guard Youth Foundation's first Challenge Champions dinner Feb. 28 in Washington, D.C. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageArmy Lt. Gen. H Steven Blum (left), chief of the National Guard Bureau, and Marine Cpl. Jordan S. Pierson, 22, watch a video at the National Guard Youth Foundation's first Challenge Champions dinner Feb. 28 in Washington, D.C. Pierson had his left leg amputated as a result of wounds received in Iraq during his third tour of duty there. Pierson, who has re-enlisted in the Marines, earned his general equivalency diploma within Michigan's Challenge program in 2001 before he enlisted in the Marines. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore  
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