Marine recalls attack, works toward future | NevadaAppeal.com

Marine recalls attack, works toward future

by F.T. Norton
ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com

Phillip Martinovich reupped in January to serve another four years in the Marine Corps. He was wooed by a bonus and the opportunity to serve with a non-deployable unit in Germany.

A month later, as he knelt in front of a doorway in Marja, Afghanistan, a blast went off.

“If I’d been standing … ” Martinovich, 22, said Friday, his voice trailing off.

It was Feb. 18, during his second tour in Afghanistan. Martinovich was with his 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division platoon clearing a marketplace with Afghani troops when an Afghani soldier opened a door. A bomb went off. Sgt. Jeremy McQueary, 27, of Columbus, Ind., and Lance Cpl. Larry Johnson, 19, of Scranton, Pa., died in the blast. Among the injured was Martinovich, his right calf and foot shredded.

He remembers trying to stand up and thinking that something didn’t feel right, so he fell back to the ground.

He remembers when medics removed his boot, he saw there was no heel on it.

He remembers spending two days in Germany in an Army hospital waiting impatiently to return stateside.

He remembers really wanting to see his parents.

On Feb. 24, just hours after Martinovich got settled into his room at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, his parents, Paul and Susan, both of Carson City, walked in.

Martinovich remembers seeing them made him feel OK.

On Friday, with his foot still bandaged, the 22-year-old Marine and 2006 Carson High graduate sat in his father’s living room and smiled.

“I just feel lucky,” he said. “I just feel really lucky.”

On Monday, after a month of leave, Martinovich heads back to Bethesda for further treatment. There’s plenty of rehabilitation left ahead of him, but he’ll “get done what needs to be done,” said his proud father.

Doctors have said his prognosis is good and Martinovich expects to have few lasting effects, other than some loss of feeling. He’s anxious to get past this and move on to his deployment to Germany.

And he seems to be adjusting – mentally and physically – to his circumstances.

“I feel better about myself that I can endure that type of thing and keep going,” said Martinovich, who was presented the Purple Heart by President Barack Obama on Feb. 28. “Marines like me that do their best and get injured, they need support when they get home. I had a lot of support and I appreciate it.”