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Injured soldier visits Hagerstown AMVETS

August 27, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Cory Remsburg, left, gives the thumbs up sign to his cousin, U.S. Army Cpl. Jeff Remsburg, right, Saturday afternoon during a reception for Cory Remsburg at the AMVETS Post 10 on Frederick Street in Hagerstown. Jeff Remsburg, a Smithsburg High School graduate, traveled overnight from Savannah, Ga., to be with Cory.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

For much of his young life, Cory Remsburg chose the more adventurous path.

He liked skydiving, rock climbing and water sports.

He was a runner, a competitive athlete at his high school near St. Louis, Mo., and active in the Civil Air Patrol.

So it didn't surprise people who knew Cory, that upon graduation he would join the Army Rangers.

His reasoning was simple, he said: "I wanted to be the best."

Cory said he knew the dangers of being a Ranger — a special operations soldier.

But even as an 18 year-old, he felt this was his calling.

His father, Craig Remsburg, who was born and raised in Hagerstown, had been in the Army. But Cory said that didn't influence his decision to go into the military.

He wanted to be his own man.

He wanted to be an Army Ranger.

Cory's wish came true, but, years later, he would face his biggest battle. He became the victim of a roadside bomb blast that would leave him critically injured, suffering brain trauma and facing a long journey to recovery.

The young man spent some time in his father's hometown Saturday afternoon, visiting with family and friends at Hagerstown AMVETS Post 10 on Frederick Street.

It was a visit that two years ago, many people never thought would happen.

As a member of the elite unit, Staff Sgt. Cory was deployed more often than traditional troops, but for shorter periods.

"His job wasn't patrolling," his stepmother Annie Remsburg noted. "He was a hunter."

Army Rangers are given nighttime missions, she said — to kill or capture identified targets. For years, Osama bin Laden was their biggest target.

His first deployment was to Iraq, Cory said, but later included missions in Afghanistan.

There was constant danger, he said. "But it was him or me. And it wasn't going to be me."

Cory was on his 10th deployment when tragedy struck. He was critically wounded Oct. 1, 2009, on the outskirts of Kandahar, where the Rangers had killed nine insurgents and destroyed caches of weapons.

Afterward, he and several other soldiers were making their way to an open field where their helicopter would meet them when an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated.

One soldier in his unit was immediately killed. Another lost his leg. Cory was found, face down, submerged in a canal filled with water.

"Eight or nine Rangers were injured that night," his father said. "That's when the rescue started and it became an emergency medical evacuation."

Bomb fragments had penetrated the right side of Cory's head, Craig Remsburg said. "The right side of his skull had been blown away."

He was resuscitated but comatose.

Over the next few weeks, Cory would have six surgeries at military hospitals in Afghanistan, Germany and Bethesda, Md., his stepmother noted.

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