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Former Marine Continues to Serve, Despite Amputation

lawrence

By Debbie Gregory.

Former Camp Pendleton Marine Christopher Lawrence is working the beat as a rookie Chula Vista police officer, defying the odds that many military amputees who want to continue to serve face.

In 2007, Lawrence served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. As he crossed a bridge to the mainland, insurgents watched from a distance and detonated an IED placed beneath it. Lawrence was badly injured, and his right leg was shattered, which led to a below the knee amputation.

Lawrence wanted to stay in the Marines. When that didn’t work out, his next choice was law enforcement. Four police departments turned him down before Chula Vista said yes.

Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy said she was silently rooting for the Purple Heart recipient as he went through the police academy.

“I thought he was so inspiring,” Kennedy said. “I figured if he went through the process, and he could pass all the testing, I’d be more than willing to give him a shot.”

It’s a small brotherhood of injured servicemembers who have succeeded in either staying in the active-duty military or transitioned to civilian law enforcement led by Army Capt. David Rozelle, who broke ground in 2005 when he became the first military amputee to go back into a combat zone.

“I have never met a more abled-body person in my life,” said Chula Vista Police Chief Roxana Kennedy said of Laurence, “The power of his attitude and character and the strength in his heart easily overcome the physical challenges. His life and the challenges he has overcome are an inspiration to others.”

“Most of the time, people are looking at the badge and uniform saying, ‘Thank God you are here to help.’ Or, they are unhappy to see us, because they did something wrong,” Lawrence said.

More than 1,700 service members have lost limbs in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, according to Military Health System figures.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Purple Heart Recipient Needs Further Proof of Service

emil

By Debbie Gregory.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has denied benefits to a World War II veteran in his 90s who was wounded in combat and earned a Purple Heart, saying it does not have enough proof that he served in the military.

Emil Limpert submitted an application for benefits to the VA, and was told he needed to provide more proof that he was in the military.

“I get this letter that says we can’t accept it because we’ve got no record of you being in the service,” he told the station. “I guess I’m the unknown soldier.”

He says he was wounded in a foxhole in the Philippines in 1944.

Limpert, who had shrapnel removed at his own expense, said he waited until now to apply for benefits because he is down to nothing.

“We got rid of our car, we got rid of our house,” he said. “I got rid of money I had in bonds and stocks and now I need help.”

With the help of AMVETS, Limpert was able to provide plenty of documentation to support his claim to veteran status. He had his military discharge papers, a roster of those injured in the 1944 attack, and the X-ray of his leg after he returned home. He also has two Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart he earned in combat.

The VA sent Limpert a letter asking him to submit affidavits from fellow service members, most of whom are dead, or the location of the hospital where he was originally treated.

“There ain’t no hospital,” he told the station. “We were in the jungles.”

Limpert’s military records were apparently among the 15 million records destroyed in a massive 1973 fire in Overland, Missouri, a time when all records were only on paper.

Limpert and his wife, married for 70 years, live in an assisted-living facility outside St. Louis. He has now turned to his local senator for help in the matter.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Limperts.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.