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Area Marine wounded in Iraq

March 16, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

karenh@herald-mail.com

CLEAR SPRING - U.S. Marine Corps Pfc. Will Worthington Jr. carried a sonogram of his baby in a pouch when he went on missions.

On Monday morning, Worthington's wife and parents learned that the 2003 Clear Spring High School graduate was injured in an apparent explosion while on patrol in Iraq.

"He said he was walking down the street with his platoon ... and when he got beside the car is when they blew it up," Nelson Penwell Jr. said of his stepson.

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Ariann Worthington said she received word Tuesday morning that her husband would be flown to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., that night. She planned to spend three weeks there as he recuperated.

"I feel better that I'll be down there with him now," Ariann Worthington, 20, said Tuesday afternoon.

A Marine Corps spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday morning that Worthington, who was deployed to Iraq last month, had been injured. She could not say when he was hurt or where he was being treated.

Nelson Penwell, who spoke to his stepson Monday, said Worthington sustained shrapnel wounds to his foot, leg, shoulder and neck and lost a big toe in the explosion. He was in Germany awaiting surgery when he called home, Penwell said.

Worthington was in good spirits, Nelson Penwell said during an interview at the family's home near Clear Spring Monday afternoon. "It just sounded like Will, calling in, checking in like he does."

Worthington's mother, Jo Ann Penwell, held back tears as she, her husband and daughter-in-law talked about Will.

The oldest of three boys, Will Worthington loved children, skateboarding and laser tag. He played center for the Clear Spring Blazers basketball team and enjoyed watching his brothers, Adam, 15, and Chris, 17, play, his mother and stepfather said.

Enlisting in the Marine Corps while the war in Iraq was under way was just like Worthington, his wife said.

"He came in, and he said, 'What would you do if I joined the Marines? Would you still stay with me?'" Ariann Worthington, a 2002 Washington County Technical High School graduate, recalled. "I started bawling, but he went in and did it. You couldn't change his mind."

Ariann and Will Worthington were married on Nov. 13, 2004, just days before he had to report to Camp Lejeune, N.C. A member of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Worthington joined the Marine Corps on Feb. 22, 2004. He shipped out for Iraq on Jan. 14.

Ariann and Will Worthington are expecting their first child in September. Ariann Worthington is hoping for a son - the name Ashton is her husband's choice.

Worthington, who kept a sonogram with him, thought a "little one" would give his mother solace if something happened while he was in Iraq, his mother said.

Family always has been an important part of Worthington's life, his mother said.

Worthington had faith he would come home, and when he encountered enemy fire earlier in his tour, he told her he felt his late grandmother was watching out for him, she said.

"I want people to know that in (the) two months he was over there, he made a difference, he helped people out," Jo Ann Penwell said.

She said her son approached her before he left to discuss what should happen if he didn't come home. He wanted "to make it easy for us," she said.

"That's the type of ... I can't say child - that's the type of man he was. He always put other people first," Jo Ann Penwell said.

She said she just wants her son to come home.

"I know in my head he's OK, but in my heart, it's hard, and until I get to hear from him, I have my ups and downs," Jo Ann Penwell said.

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