Wounded Marine Goes Home in Style

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

HICKAM AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii, Feb. 9, 2007 - A Marine wounded in Iraq traveled the final leg of his journey back to his unit in style yesterday.

Lance Cpl. Steven Eastburn, a member of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines, at Kaneohe Bay, arrived back in Hawaii on an executive jet, after being offered a ride from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., by Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Eastburn was undergoing treatment at Travis for wounds he suffered in Haqlaniyah, Iraq, on Jan. 31.

Pace visited servicemembers at David Grant Medical Center at Travis while his C-40B aircraft was being refueled. Eastburn was at the hospital, and Pace asked the 20-year-old Marine if he would like a ride back to Hawaii. "Of course I said, 'Sure,'" the Marine said.

"This is a big government plane," the chairman said. "We can always make room for one more."

Eastburn was wounded while pulling guard as his squad was setting up an observation post. A sniper shot him through the right arm just above the elbow. "There was a second shot, but he missed," the lance corporal said. "My squad leader came out to get me."

His squad gave him immediate attention then got him to a medevac point. He was flown to Balad Air Base, Iraq; and then Landstuhl, Germany; before going on to Andrews Air Force Base, Md.; and finally to Travis.

At Andrews, Eastburn received a new treatment called a peripheral nerve block. The treatment uses a machine to place a small bit of local anesthetic into the affected area. "It gives the wound a chance to heal without the side effects of morphine or other drugs," said Air Force Dr. (Lt. Col.) Bill Whelan, a flight surgeon traveling with the chairman. "Many people get nauseous due to the side effects of morphine. But with this, Steven is able to eat and gain strength. He's doing well."

Eastburn will be assigned to Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii, closer to his unit's home base.

As the jet pulled up to the distinguished visitor area at Hickam, a number of people were there to meet and greet the chairman and his wife, Lynne. Eastburn's parents were also there. The chairman came up the aisle of the plane and told the young lance corporal to "lead everybody off the plane."

"Thanks for the ride, Sir," the lance corporal told Pace. "I won't forget it."

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