Why wait until next week to register for the Marine Corps Marathon when you can run for a cause with Team Operation Homefront! For the past several years, we’ve run in honor of those closest to our hearts: our heroes who show us what determination and courage really means, and to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
Meet our 2013 Team Operation Homefront Honorees:
When Marine Corps Cpl. Sebastian Gallegos arrived in Afghanistan the fighting began almost as soon as he arrived.
His unit replaced a group of British commandos who had just headed home. There was no time to adjust. The Marines were met with constant firefights. Continuous movement. Daily war.
Sebastian, a rifle team leader, was heading back to the patrol base with his team on Oct. 16, 2010. His squad leader stepped on an IED. The blast tore into Sebastian’s body and tossed him into a canal. His squad leader died in the helicopter on the way to the hospital. Sebastian’s right arm was amputated in the field hospital. Doctors left the shrapnel that peppered his back.
Once in the U.S., Sebastian’s wife, Tracie, came to San Antonio to be by his side. After three weeks as an in-patient, he was able to live with her in the nearby guest house. The one room accommodations were stressful for the couple and their dog.
Operation Homefront gave the young family a place to plan for the future. Now Sebastian and Tracie live at the Operation Homefront Village in San Antonio. Sebastian said the spacious apartment, “feels like home.” The accommodations have also allowed the couple to save for a home of their own.
“We are saving so much money here,” he said.
Sebastian, now 23, is in the process of applying to college and plans to study political science.
The Cruz Family: Carlos, Patricia, Enrique and Yazmine
Marine Sgt. Carlos Cruz has spent a combined 23 months in Iraq over three tours.
During each tour, the infantry Marine suffered TBI after IED blasts knocked him aside and left him unconscious.
Three deployments. Three blasts. Three bruises on his brain.
On his last trip to the battlefield, the 7-ton truck he was riding in veered off the road and rolled over. Carlos was ejected from the vehicle and knocked out. He woke up nearly an hour later at an Air Force base.
When he hit the ground, his neck and spine took the brunt of the impact.
Today, Carlos suffers chronic, debilitating pain because of that day. Doctors will not operate for fear of doing more damage. He also suffers from severe arthritis in his hands. If he tries to write for more
than 15 minutes, his hands swell. He cannot type or drive for longer than a few minutes.
Carlos was moved to the wounded warrior battalion where he worried every day about how he would support his family once he was medically retired. His wife, Patricia, was laid off soon after.
Operation Homefront gave them a safe place to live to make a plan for the future. Carlos is now medically retired and awaiting his final VA rating. He said without Operation Homefront’s help, the family, Carlos said, may have been
“If we weren’t at the village, it wouldn’t be good at all,” Carlos said. “This is a blessing and then some.”
Team Operation Homefront (TOH) is an endurance training program that provides athletes with an opportunity to fundraise for Operation Homefront while training for an endurance event either on their own or in a team environment. Funds raised go to support Operation Homefront Villages.