War tests the strength of personal relationships

The sound of metal exploding echoed through the dry desert air. A pressure plate had triggered a landmine and a marine was severely injured.

Marine, Cpl. Todd Love, of the 1st Recon Battalion, was not supposed to be front man on Oct. 25. The usual front man in his platoon backed out. It was then that Love took his place.
Due to his tenacious and positive outlook on life, an outsider would have difficulty imagining that Love recently lost his arm and legs as a result of an improvised explosive device (IED) at war in Afghanistan.

“Hey everyone! I just wanted to say thanks for all the prayers and all the support. All the love just makes this new chapter in my life that much better. This won’t be easy, I know, but in my mind I’ve already won. I’ve got the greatest doctor and therapist and that is God, so no worries,” reads 20-year-old Cpl. Love’s latest Facebook post.

At 5 a.m. Monday, Oct. 25, Megan Scholz, Love’s girlfriend, woke up to the sound of her phone ringing. Scholz, 20, a Cal State Fullerton kinesiology major, heard the voice of Love’s brother on the line.

“He said, ‘Todd stepped on an IED. His legs are gone. He’s in a hospital in Afghanistan, but they’ll try to get him out as soon as possible.’ At first, I thought he was playing a sick joke on me,” Scholz said. “I laughed and told him to f-off because it wasn’t funny.”

Scholz finally realized it was no joke and called his battalion to confirm the information.

It was true; her boyfriend had lost his legs and suffered other serious wounds.

“I didn’t go anywhere or do anything that didn’t have to do with Todd for three days straight,” Scholz said. “I cried a lot, prayed a lot and went through all these emotions by myself. I didn’t want to be around other people. I didn’t want to talk to anyone.”

Love sustained his injuries while out on a mission.

During the patrol, Love stepped on a pressure plate that triggered the IED. He was quickly transported to an Afghanistan hospital where he underwent the first of many surgeries.

Love’s next step was nerve reconstruction surgery in his left arm, which was done in Germany.

“I will never forget the phone call I received telling me that he had been hurt. I was hysterical, but then I became completely frustrated and angry. I couldn’t believe something like this happened to someone so full of life, at just 20 years old,” said Cara Burbank, 20, Love’s friend and a business major.

Burbank’s boyfriend recently returned from a seven-month deployment in Afghanistan.

Once Love reached Germany, doctors connected him to a breathing tube in order to sedate him.

A couple of days after the surgery, doctors removed the tube and Scholz was finally able to talk to her boyfriend.

“I love you! And I feel good! Don’t worry, I feel good,” Love said to Scholz.

Love made his trip back to the U.S. on Oct. 29. Upon arriving he expressed to nurses that he was ready for his “bionic legs.”

The next day, the Commandant, Sgt. Major personally delivered Love’s Purple Heart.

Doctors were unable to save Love’s damaged left arm because they felt it would hinder his rehabilitation process. They amputated it below the elbow.

“It seems like people today tend to forget that we are still fighting a war,” Burbank said.

The war in Afghanistan is still going on, and it is affecting servicemembers as well as their loved ones back home. Love is just one example among the many who have been injured or killed since 2001.

“Just a month or so after (my husband) arrived home we got word that three soldiers from the incoming unit were killed by an IED. They had just taken over for my husband’s unit and drove on the same road my husband and his friends drove on every day,” said Jennifer Vargas-Lambarena, 22, a San Diego native and wife to Army specialist, Jose Lambarena.

President Obama has more than doubled the number of U.S. troops but set a target date of July 2011 to begin bringing troops home, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

“Obama has made it clear that he is serious about reducing the number of U.S. troops— he faces pressure from within his own party to begin a drawdown soon,” Andrew Malcom wrote in his article, “Obama seeks political refuge now in foreign affairs,” for the Times.

Love and Scholz are not the only couple affected by the war in Afghanistan. Partners of servicemembers are constantly tested every day that their loved ones are gone.
In war, “no news is good news. If he doesn’t call, and if you don’t get notified, he’s doing all right and every thing’s OK,” said Julianna Pomparelli, 20, a computer science major.

Her Marine boyfriend is with the 1st Recon Battalion, Bravo company, stationed at Camp Pendleton and expected to complete his last mission before her first final.

As of today, Love is still undergoing surgeries in Maryland and can’t wait to get his prosthetic legs and arm. Scholz is planning more trips to see him soon.

“Flying to Maryland to see Todd was bittersweet,” Scholz said. “I absolutely hated that this was the way I had to see him come home, but on the other hand, the man I hadn’t seen for six-and-a-half months was only feet away from me now, and I couldn’t be happier to see his face smiling back at mine.”

About Karen Dickinson