Doctors Told This ‘Lucky’ Marine He’d Never Walk Again, But He’s Proving Them Wrong

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1st Lt. Patrick Nugent is one lucky Marine. And he would be the first to tell you so.

According to Military.com, his recovery from what happened to him in an unfortunate accident during live-fire training at the Pohakuloa Training area on Hawaii Island last year, is considered by many of his doctors as “miraculous.”

1st Lt. Nugent is a platoon commander with Charlie Company, Battalion Landing Team, 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit out of Camp Pendleton, California. He and his platoon were part of a three-ship, USS America amphibious ready group, heading out for their first overseas deployment in the Western Pacific. Part of their on-going training included this stop on the Big Island Marine training facility.

Source: U.S. Marines
1st Lt. Patrick Nugent, a platoon commander with Charlie Company, Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, directs his Marines into their positions.

On the day of the accident, Nugent was acting as a range officer in charge, observing the live fire exercises. Unfortunately, the position he was observing the action from turned out to be an unlucky spot, indeed.

Nugent was struck in the lower back by an M-16 5.56 round that had ricocheted off of a small pile of rocks in the area of the live fire range. The wound was severe.

He was immediately attended to by two of his Corpsmen and his platoon sergeant. Their Corpsman training went into high gear and they were able to stabilize Nugent for a helicopter evac to nearby medical facilities. The doctors he met there did not think he would ever walk again.

Source: flickr/Marines
Petty Officer 3rd Class Bradley Erickson, hospital corpsman, assigned to 1st Platoon, India Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 7, cleans facial wounds for Lance Cpl. Timothy Mixon after an improvised explosive device attack during a patrol.

When Nugent woke up from his original surgery, he too thought he was paralyzed. But he began to regain feeling in both legs shortly afterwards. He would go through a total of 13 surgeries to repair the damage caused to nerves in his leg. The final surgeries would be done at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Here is the good news end of the story. 1st Lt. Patrick Nugent has recovered enough that his doctors approved his return to his unit. He can now complete the deployment with them.

In his own words, “I was ecstatic when doctors approved me to go back on deployment and to finish it with my company. It was important for me to come back to the unit because I left them in a bad situation. The last time they saw me, I was getting loaded onto a helicopter, and now for them to see me recovering six months later and coming home with them to California was huge.”

Source: U.S. Marines
Hospital Corpsman Mc Joe Evans Bautista, left, and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Trevor A. Tisby, right, stationed with Combat Logistics Company 36 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, carry Sgt. Kendrick Moore, a motor transport operator with CLC-36, to a safety vehicle during Exercise Dragon Fire 2015 at Combined Arms Training Center Camp Fuji, Japan, July 20, 2015.

The Veterans Site is impressed with 1st Lt. Patrick Nugent’s recovery from his wound and are thankful that he has been returned to his platoon. We hope that he and his platoon can continue to build that famous unit cohesion that makes Marine Corps combat units so incredibly effective.

We wish Lt. Nugent much better luck in the future.

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site Blog.
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