Saturday, 20 December, 2008 3:09 AM
Faith Under Pressure: A
Marine's Story of Miraculous Survival
MO -- While most of us sleep, they stand guard. While we
drive to work, they search for roadside IED’s. While we raid
the fridge for snacks, they hunt for terrorists. “They”
are U.S. soldiers and Marines. The Department of Defense reports
that nearly 4,800 American troops have been killed and more than
33,000 have been wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq since both operations
started in 2001 and 2003 respectively. For many Americans, the casualties
evoke a sense of fleeting sadness that often fades by the end of
the evening news. But for the families of our troops, anxiety and
fear are constant companions.
Connie McClellan is an intimate acquaintance of heart-stopping fear.
She’s received alarming news three times since her son, Marine
Lance Corporal John McClellan, deployed overseas. The first two
messages came just days apart. Her son was shot two times—in
the same arm—in a one week period while serving as a machine
gunner in Afghanistan. He wasn’t seriously injured in either
incident. But on September 11, 2006 he deployed to Iraq. And his
luck appeared to take a turn…for the worse.
“Our phone rang just after midnight and I expected John on
the other end,” says McClellan. “But it was a doctor
from the hospital in Balad, Iraq. John had been shot through the
head. I could feel the blood drain from my face as he told me if
John survived the brain swelling, he would probably be a vegetable.”
McClellan, author of the new book, My Miracle Marine (Divine Word
was devastated. She immediately turned to her own “troops”
for support. She went to her computer and wrote an email explaining
that an enemy sniper’s bullet had pierced her 20-year-old
son’s skull, forcing doctors to remove bone fragments and
damaged brain tissue.
“I asked them to pray for a miracle,” says McClellan.
“I also asked them very specifically to pray for God to heal
John and make him whole in every way; physically, mentally, spiritually,
and emotionally. I sent that email to everyone in my address book.”
The next day brought encouraging news. John’s brain swelling
was kept to a minimum. He had cleared the first fallen log so to
speak, but he was still so very far from being out of the woods.
Within days, John was airlifted to Bethesda National Naval Medical
Center. “At this point, he’d already defied the odds,
simply by surviving,” says McClellan. “But his doctors
didn’t know if he’d be able to breathe on his own, or
use his vocal cords. He faced over twenty-four serious and potentially
debilitating problems. So I kept emailing updates and continued
leading my online group in detailed prayers.”
During John’s 26 days at Bethesda, he made dramatic improvements.
His mom made extraordinary progress too. Her emails circled the
globe while she made the rounds at the hospital.
“Many people don’t realize how quickly families bond
while sharing the ICU Waiting Room,” says McClellan. “Our
victories and setbacks became a shared experience. I included prayer
requests for other patients in my emails. And it worked! When medical
options hit a wall, we witnessed miracles.”
John went on to spend 27 days at the James A. Haley V.A. Hospital
in Tampa, Florida where he learned to walk again. For a Marine whose
prognosis looked utterly grim, John’s recovery is miraculous.
But his mother isn’t exactly surprised.
“While John battled his injuries, I never lost faith; I never
doubted,” says McClellan. “The message is that all things
are possible with God. There’s hope for everyone no matter
what they’re going through.”
McClellan hopes her family’s story provides encouragement
for troops’ families and for anyone else who’s struggling;
especially when the sadness isn’t fleeting.
About Connie McClellan
Connie McClellan and her husband Carl have been married for 28 years.
They have both been insurance agents for more than 30 years and
by all accounts, had lived a fairly ‘normal’ life until
a sniper’s bullet changed their lives forever. Since publishing
“My Miracle Marine”, McClellan and her son John have
been interviewed for a variety of television and radio programs
including the Laura Ingraham Radio Show. www.mymiraclemarine.com
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