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Marine injured in Iraq 'in good spirits'

September 21, 2006|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - A local Marine who was injured in Iraq last week underwent surgery Wednesday at the National Naval Hospital in Bethesda, Md., his aunt said.

Lance Cpl. Jonathan Breehl, who joined the Marines last July, sustained injuries to his right wrist and left thigh when shrapnel from a remote-controlled improvised explosive device struck him Thursday morning while on patrol in Habbaniyah, Iraq.

"He looked very good. He was in very good spirits. As soon as he saw us, there was a big old smile on his face," Matty Chaney, Breehl's aunt, said before the surgery.

Chaney joined Breehl's mother, Melissa Custer, and others Tuesday night in Bethesda when Breehl arrived in the U.S. from Germany.

Doctors performing the surgery Wednesday were determining whether they could perform a skin graft on Breehl's injured left thigh. The shrapnel caused a "pretty deep wound," Chaney said.

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The family has "no idea" when Breehl will be getting out of the hospital, Chaney said.

Cuts and marks on Breehl's face show where shrapnel hit him when the device exploded, Chaney said.

Breehl kept the shrapnel that doctors pulled out of his thigh. Chaney said she thought that emergency surgery was performed at a hospital in Baghdad, Iraq.

Wounds on Breehl's right wrist are healing well, she said.

Doctors don't know how long Breehl will be in recovery, Chaney said.

Chaney said that Breehl gave her children Iraqi currency when they visited him at the hospital.

Chaney's daughter, Katie, 9, gave Breehl letters from her fourth-grade Maugansville Elementary School class.

Breehl laughed as he read the letters, and he told Katie that he would visit her class when he's well, Chaney said.

"He was very happy to see his family," she said.

Breehl graduated from North Hagerstown High School in 2005. He was a wrestling standout and a member of the football team.

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