"Just because I'm blind doesn't mean I don't have vision. I believe God kept me alive for a reason, and that's to tell my story."
So says Marine Corporal Matthew B--the first blinded amputee in history to re-enlist in the Corps.
In December 2004, while Matt was a senior in high school, he joined the Marines' delayed entry program. "The reason I joined was September 11, 2001," he explains. "I remember the exact place I was and who told me, and from that moment on I had one thing on my mind - that I was going to defend our freedoms that were threatended that day. I wanted to deploy and proudly defend our country and the freedoms that we all love."
Matt served and deployed with 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, Echo Company. "We were stationed in Haneohe Bay, Hawaii. I served with this unit until the day I was injured. We were deployed to Haditha, Iraq, in the Al Anbar Province when I was severely injured on a foot patrol.
"I remember walking down the street - the road was called Park Place, it ran parallel to the Euphrates River to my left - and the compound wall, about seven feet tall, was to my right. There was an opening with a bunch of plam trees, and off to the right there's a white bag lying up against a tree. I point out something suspicious. I turn around, and there was a ditch along the wall that ended in a pipe. I looked down and saw the wires. I was standing right on top of it."
"Instantly (the improvised explosive device) sent shapnel into both my eyes and took my left leg," Matt continues. "The blast put me in a coma for three weeks. I was injured on the
The Semper Fi Fund began assisting Matt when he was recovering, providing several family members with support and vehicle grants - and a grant to help this avid hunder and outsdoorsman obtain a special scope for his gun that enables him to go on hunting trips with veterans groups. "I got the biggest buck in the Warrior Hunt this year!" Matt says with pride.
"The Semper Fi Fund is a great non-profit organization," Matt says. "They help with vehicles, they can help with putting you on a team so you can do things you didn't think you could do - they give you the opportunity to live your life freely, without any limitations."
Matt was promoted to Corporal in 2010 and re-enlisted six days later- he's the first blinded amputee in Marine Corps. history to re-enlist. This father of a 2 1/2 yer old daughter and two step-children was recently accepted into the University of Kentucky, where he will study communications.
"Just 'cause you're injured doesn't mean you give up on yourself," Matt says. "There's many things in this world you can still get out and do. You're alive for a reason. Never quit."