About UCLA Operation Mend, wounded warriors, reconstructive surgery
Listed below are a few of our wounded warriors and their stories.
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Marine Corporal Oyoana Allende Marine Corporal Oyoana Allende is married, studying occupational therapy, and living in New York City for the summer. She was injured on June 23, 2005 when a suicide bomber rammed his car, wired with explosives into her Marine convoy truck. Fourteen female Marines were riding in the bed of the truck at the time, being dropped off at various military checkpoints where they helped search Iraqi women for weapons and explosives. Three female Marines were killed in the incident, plus the driver of her vehicle, the gunner and a rescuer. She sustained extensive burns to her face, hands and knees. Despite the events of this tragedy, Oyoana keeps a smile on her face and makes the world around her glow.
Army Captain James Barclay CPT Barclay, married, father of 3 children. On August 19, 2006 while serving as an Infantry platoon leader for 10 th Mountain Division, CPT Barclay was wounded in Afghanistan by a roadside bomb. Three soldiers died that day, CPT Barclay and his driver were the only soldiers who survived. 47 % of his body was burned, 35% was 3rd degree burns. The enormous amount of scarring limited his ability to fully open his mouth and disfigured his face and hands. The surgeries he has undergone at UCLA have restored much of his mobility and function and reduced the scarring tremendously on both his face and his hands.
Army Specialist Donald "Joey" Barr SPC Donald "Joey" Barr is currently living in Iowa. On April 21, 2008 while serving as a Gunner in his tank, Joey was injured in Iraq after his tank drove over a roadside bomb . Joey suffered a broken jaw, torn left ACL, torn right PCL, compression fracture L1-T12 and herniated discs. Joey has undergone knee and shoulder surgeries at UCLA and is returning to a more active lifestyle.
Navy Chief Petty Officer Robert Bruce Navy Chief Petty Officer Robert Bruce was recently promoted to Chief Petty Officer, Robert Bruce is currently living in San Antonio Texas and was one of eight sailors injured Dec. 1, 2006 when a steam pipe ruptured aboard the Guam-based submarine tender USS Frank Cable. The steam line ruptured during a safety-valve check while the ship was docked at Guam's Apra Harbor sending hot steam into the fire room where Bruce was one of 14 sailors acting as technicians, standing watch or observing the safety check. Two sailors have since died of their injuries.
Marine Corporal Diane Cardile Marine Corporal Diane Cardile was awarded a Purple Heart after she was injured in Iraq in June 2005. Her Humvee that was filled with 13 other female Marines was hit by a suicide car bomb while driving in a convoy back to Camp Fallujah. She sustained serious burns around her mouth and her hands.
Army Specialist Richard Carson SPC Richard Carson is currently living in Washington and going to school where he is working on his Bachelors of Science in Nursing. On April 17, 2010, while on patrol clearing a compound, Carson's fellow unit member stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). The injuries Carson sustained from the explosion were to his lower torso and hands.
Army Specialist Louis Dahlman SPC Louis Dahlman is currently living in Texas with his wife and daughter. Louis was deployed to Iraq for three months when he was injured by an EFP (roadside bomb) resulting in the loss of his lower mandible, including his bottom teeth. He has undergone several reconstructive surgeries and can now eat normally and enjoy a better quality of life.
TSGT. Israel Del Toro TSGT. Israel Del Toro currently living in San Antonio Texas with his wife and son. He was severely injured while on tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2005. Originally his job was to call in air strikes, but that December, his Humvee hit a massive IED. Del Toro was burned over 80 percent of his body. Doctors gave Del Toro a 20 percent chance of survival. He has undergone over 100 surgeries since his accident. Israel's positive outlook on life continues to inspire everyone that has the pleasure of meeting him.
SPC. Francesca Duke SPC. Francesca Duke is currently living in San Antonio Texas with her family. Her job as a Military Police Officer was to train and maintain an Iraqi Police station in Ramadi, Iraq. On August 21, 2006 the IP station she was assigned to was blown up by a VBIED carrying propane tanks and explosives. She was burned on her legs, arms, banc, trunk, and face. She will be having her first surgery at UCLA at the end of this year and is home celebrating the new birth of her beautiful daughter.
Staff Sergeant Shilo Harris SSG Shilo Harris currently lives with his wife and five children in South Texas. On February 19, 2007, during his 2nd deployment to Iraq, Harris' Humvee hit an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) while on a patrol, killing three soldiers. Only Harris and the driver survived. After the blast, Harris was in a coma for 48 days. He suffered severe burns to 35% of his body, and lost both of his ears and several fingers.
Army Sergeant Matthew King In 2005, while on a mission in Afghanistan, SGT. King was hit in his upper left thigh by a rocket-repelled grenade. The grenade blew a huge hole in his leg leaving him injured and scarred from his groin to his knee. After multiple surgeries and years of therapy, King is able to walk again, manages his pain, and enjoys outdoor activities.
Navy Petty Officer 1 Michael Lammey PO1 Lammey is currently living in San Antonio, Texas with his wife and three children. On Dec. 1, 2006 he was injured, along with 12 others, when the steam line on their ship, the USS Frank Cable, ruptured during a safety valve check while docked at Guam's Apra Harbor. Steam was released into the boiler's firebox and ignited the unburned vapors, injuring technicians and those observing the valve check. Michael Lammey, received Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals for "heroic" action in helping others to safety.
Marine Corporal Aaron P. Mankin was Operation Mend's first patient in August 2007. He is currently living in Texas and has two beautiful children. On May 11th, 2005, he was wounded when the 26-ton amphibious assault vehicle he was traveling in rolled over an improvised explosive device and was propelled 10 feet in the air.
Four Marines died in the attack and 11 others were injured. In addition to the damage sustained to his throat and lungs from smoke inhalation, Cpl. Mankin suffered intense burns on over 25 percent of his body. His ears, nose and mouth were essentially gone and he lost two fingers on his right hand.
Army Specialist Nicholas Mapson, Ret. SPC Nicholas Mapson currently lives with his wife and two children in Antioch, Illinois. On his 99th day of his deployment in Afghanistan, Nick's vehicle was struck by an IED while on patrol. Mapson trapped inside until his buddies pulled him out. He suffered third degree burns over 20% of his body, including on his face, arms and hands, vision and hearing loss. He didn't want to go outside, but after many surgeries, Nick regained his confidence and the ability to do a lot of the things he used to enjoy.
Army Sergeant Jason March SGT March is retired and living in La Vernia, Texas. On August 27, 2006, while leading a platoon near Fallujah, he was hit by a sniper's bullet in the back of the head near his right ear while standing in the gun turret of a Bradley. The right side of SGT March's head, ear, jaw and brain received the direct impact of the gunshot. In the past 2 years, he has undergone 7 procedures and can now smile on both sides of his face. With the help of his family, and positive attitude, his motor control has improved and his sense of humor makes him a joy to be around.
Army Corporal Pablo Mena Corporal Pablo Mena entered the ARMY as a combat engineer in 2009. During his four years of service, he spent 2 years and 6 months overseas with the Outlaws of the 541st SAPPER Company, 54th Engineer Battalion in Bamberg, Germany and Afghanistan. He completed his final year at Ft. Irwin, California with the Red Devils of the 58th Combat Engineer Company, 11th Armored Cavalry. While deployed, Pablo was involved in 3 vehicular IED strikes and a rocket propelled grenade strike, from which he suffered a back injuries in addition to a concussion. Through the course of intensive firefights and searches for IED’s, he suffered injuries to his knees and ankle, but above all, his greatest pain came from the loss of fellow soldiers.
Army Sergeant Darron Mikeworth Army Sergeant Mikeworth is active duty living in North Carolina and is stationed at Fort Bragg with his wife Dea and two young boys. In April of 2005, as a Humvee gunner on the way to Balad Air Base in Iraq, he saw a suicide bomber approach his convoy. The attack nearly killed Sgt. Mikeworth and left him terribly disfigured. It broke every bone in his face. He lost his nose, left eye, and almost lost his right arm. He is in the process of a series of operations with Christopher A. Crisera, M.D. that include constructing a lower eyelid in which a prosthetic eye can be placed, reconstructing his nose and reforming his lips. He is slowly regaining his face and his life.
Army Sergeant First Class Michael Mills SFC Mills is retired and living in Minnesota with his wife and two children. He was injured in Kirkuk, Iraq on June 14, 2005 by an Improvised Explosive Device that burned over 31% of his body, and broke his scapula, clavicle and 4 bones in his left foot. His left hip was also badly broken. He had his left little finger and thumb amputated, has 13 pins and a plate in his left hip, and was missing a portion of his left ear and nose. He is extremely pleased with the reconstruction he has undergone at UCLA and now spends time with his family and on their website helping fellow Veterans.
Army Specialist Joseph (Joey) Paulk SPC Paulk is now retired and living back in his hometown of Oceanside, California with his girlfriend and two dogs. On July 5, 2007 he was injured in Afghanistan when his tactical vehicle was hit by 3 anti-tank mines, flipping it over and igniting the fuel tank. Tragically, his team leader lost his life during the attack, and Joey was left with significant injuries. He suffered 40% burns to his body and face, smoke inhalation, paralysis of his vocal cords and complete amputation of all 10 fingers. He has had to re-learn how to walk, talk, swallow, and cope without the use of his hands. Joey is now an active spokesman for wounded warriors in southern California and is back to being very active in his athletic activities like snowboarding and soccer.
Marine Corporal Joseph Piram Cpl Piram is now retired, and living in Minnesota with his family. Joe joined the Marine Corps after graduation from high school in 2004. He served two, 7-month long tours in Iraq, and was injured in Afghanistan only 2 months away from completing his service in the Marine Corps. On June 20, 2008, an improvised explosive device hit his Humvee. Joe was burned over 35% of his body and broke his back in the incident. He has extensive scarring on the right side of his face and has no right ear. Joe has had facial reconstruction done on his nose and is still seeing our dermatology department to reduce redness from his burn injuries. Joe continues to stay positive and is back in school pursuing his Bachelor's degree.
Marine Corporal Ronny Porta is currently living in San Antonio Texas with his new puppy. While he was in Al Asad Iraq on May 5, 2007, his Humvee hit a roadside IED killing two of the marines he was with instantly and severely burning Ronny. His prognosis was devastating: 3rd, 4th and 5th degree burns over 35% of his body. He had to have his right arm amputated and suffered facial disfigurement, the loss of his nose, damage to ears and eye sockets, and loss of fingers on his left hand. Ronny's soft hearted approach to everyone he encounters is a reminder of the strength and courage he posses.
Marine Staff Sergeant Octavio Sanchez is a married father of four and is currently retired and living in California. He was the victim of a makeshift roadside bomb in Ramadi and suffered third-degree burns over 70 percent of his face and body in June 2005. Before arriving at the V.A.-Greater Los Angeles, he was told there was nothing more that could be done for him. Operation Mend doctors were able to construct a nose, using skin from SSgt Sanchez's forehead. Once the blood supply was in place, one of his ribs was implanted to provide structure to the nose. Nostrils were fashioned out of remaining ear cartilage and his lips and cheeks were rebuilt. He has undergone several surgeries on his face and hand and now enjoys a more natural and normal appearance.
Marine Master Sergeant Blaine Scott MSgt Scott is Operation Mend's 7th patient and the first to have surgery at UCLA on his ankle as an Operation Mend participant. He is married and a father of three. On August 2006 he was hit with an I.E.D in Iraq. Three of his comrades died and three were injured. He ended up at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX after receiving 40% burns to his head, face, arms, and legs. He had a severely broken ankle and foot. He remains active duty, returned from another deployment in Afghanistan after several very successful surgeries at UCLA. Currently he is stationed at Brooke Army Medical Center.
Marine Corporal Jacob Tabora Marine Corporal Jacob Tabora from Queens New York City was deployed to Iraq in 2007. After 9 months overseas he returned to the states and began rigorous training to be redeployed in the summer of 2008. During a live fire training event on base at 29 Palms a defective 120mm tank round exploded inside of his tank setting it on fire and trapping Jacob inside. He suffered 55% total surface body burns-36% of which were 3rd degree. After receiving a year of exceptional treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio Texas, Jacob will also be having reconstructive plastic surgery with Dr. Miller at UCLA, December 1st, 2009.
Army Sergeant Salvador Trujillo-Lopez Army Sergeant Salvador Trujillo-Lopez is currently living in Oregon with his wife, and three children. He was injured on June 23, 2006 suffering second and third degree burns over 40 percent of his body when his Bradley fighting vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq. Salvador has undergone several surgeries on his face and hands as well as medical tattooing. His scars do not stop him from spending as much time with his kids as possible and snowboarding whenever he can. He is very happy with the results of his surgeries.
Army Specialist Robert Williamson SPC Williamson, married, father of 2 children, is currently living in Illinois. Over his tour in Sadr City in Baghdad between March to May 2008, SPC Williamson was involved in multiple IED blasts. These blasts resulted in Traumatic Brain Injury, causing severe brain atrophy, and eleven herniated disks in his back. SPC Williamson has had two epidural spinal injections to his back and an EMG/nerve conduction study to help with pain. He has also seen Dr. Vespa for Traumatic Brain Injury diagnostics in August 2012.
Army Sergeant Richard (Rick) Yarosh Army Sergeant Richard (Rick) Yarosh currently lives in Binghamton, New York. He was deployed to Iraq in December 2005 (then a PFC) as a driver of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and then moved to the gunner position. On September 1, 2006, Sgt. Yarosh and his fellow soldiers were on patrol in the Abu Ghraib region of Iraq when their Bradley vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb. The explosion ruptured the vehicle's fuel cell and engulfed the entire crew and vehicle in flames. Sgt. Yarosh's face and body were on fire when he jumped from the top of the Bradley's turret. His jump broke his right leg, severing an artery, which resulted in an amputation (below the knee). He suffered burns over 60 percent of his body, lost partial digits and full use in both hands, lost both of his ears and part of his nose.
Army Staff Sergeant Oskar Zepeda SSG Zepeda is currently living in Lake View Terrace, California. On September 9, 2011, SSG Zepeda was wounded when he was conducting a night raid. The enemy that he was carrying in his arms pulled the pin on a grenade and blew up the entire right side of his body. Due to the explosion, Zepeda’s right arm was injured along with the shattering of his brachial artery. He also sustained damage to his right quad, hamstrings and also suffers from a foot drop.