CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marjah, Afghanistan, was the site of countless casualties and deaths, while Marines and coalition forces seized the city early last year in an attempt to rid it of Taliban forces. Fallen service members were given the proper respect and wounded Marines were decorated with the honors they deserved, but even one year after the initial assault, the urban center remains a dangerous region of Helmand province.
Lance Cpl. Brian K. Steele, a native of Paris, Ill., can testify to the danger that still lies around Forward Operating Base Hansen, one of the many coalition outposts that now dot the city.
On Jan. 22, Steele, who was the vehicle commander in the sixth vehicle of a 17-vehicle convoy, was near FOB Hansen performing a logistics vehicle system replacement, and then it happened - his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.
Although he was wearing all of his personal protective equipment, the blast left him in serious condition. Steele, a combat engineer with 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), suffered injuries to his cheek bone and hip joint area, among other fractures.
The experience is something he says he will never forget.
“Getting blown up will stay with me for the rest of my life,” said Steele. “It’s a life changing experience, obviously, but I’m fine and that’s what’s important.”
After being hit by the IED, Steele was medically evacuated to Camp Bastion, where he was diagnosed with the aforementioned injuries.
Soon thereafter, Steele was admitted to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and was subsequently admitted to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md. He’s currently on convalescent leave and taking the rest of his life one step at a time as he continues to recover from his injuries.
Beside the fact that he fell victim to an IED strike, his morale has not been shaken. The self-proclaimed trail blazer, who was awarded the Purple Heart medal Feb. 15, has a plan and is not going to let something like a combat wound keep him down for long. He’s hoping to make a full recovery and return to duty.
“I like following my own path, I make my own decisions,” said Steele, who proved this when he made the decision to join the Marine Corps just for a chance at a fresh start away from his hometown.
“Even growing up I liked to do my own thing.”
Steele continues his road to recovery, with his wife at his side, with a positive outlook on what was a bad situation that could have been worse.