Thursday, August 19, 2010

Chris's 3rd letter received August 19, 2010

In hardly legible, all-caps handwriting, Chris wrote:

I'm not sure which is tougher- writing legibly with my left hand or surviving recruit training. Many of you may know by now, I broke/fractured my right thumb pretty badly which required surgery and a couple pins to repair. The doctors say that due to the nature of the injury and the time required to heal, I will not be able to continue training or earn the title of United States Marine.

This past week has likely been the most disappointing of my entire life, but I'm trying to stay positive. I'm looking forward to coming home to Rachel and figuring out what to set my sights upon next. Unfortunately, it will be a couple of months before they let me go home. I will be moved into a medical evaluation platoon on Monday with other recruits that are waiting to be released to go home as well. Hopefully they won't scream at us as much.

Some may be curious to know how I fractured my thumb...Well, on training day 6, we had pugil sticks at 0800. Pugil sticks is when two opponents face off in a circle pit with padded pugil sticks, football helmets, and other safety gear. They had a similar event on the show American Gladiators. The goal is to hit your opponent more than he hits you; aggression and speed are the key to winning each round. After watching a couple fights, I figured that quickly landing the first blow would give me the advantage. When I was up to fight, I put myself into position to get the first strike, and when the whistle blew, I swung my pugil stick at my opponent's head. My pugil stick smacked the side of his helmet, but my right hand also directly hit his face mask pretty hard, and I knew instantly my hand was damaged. I had a hard time keeping the pugil stick in my hands after that point, and I wasn't sure whether my thumb was broken or just jammed. Either way, quitting or stopping the fight wasn't an option. My opponent won the first round as I spent most of my time trying to defend myself and holding onto my pugil stick with one hand. The next round, my opponent got a cheap shot to the back of my helmet, which really set me off. I landed three consecutive blows to his grape(?), knocking him down. I won the second round, but I got screamed at for not finishing him off when he was down. Once I got back into formation, I realized that my thumb was pretty badly broken. One kid from my platoon took a look at it and almost fainted. That didn't help my morale much. Once I got xrays of my hand, I knew the results were bad because the Navy corpsmen were passing around my xrays and making smart-a$$ comments about how brutal the fracture was. Thank God for those Navy corpsmen.

So it looks like my military career will end before it ever begins. Please keep Rachel and me in your thoughts and prayers as we will be making some big changes and decisions when I return home. I appreciate all the concern, and I look forward to seeing friends and family when I get home.

Recruit Hughes

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