Marine Lance Corporal Jesse Medina was blown up in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan on Christmas Day in 2011 when an IED (improvised explosive device) detonated while conducting a dismounted patrol and ground combat operations.
The now 21-year-old Texas Sentinels Foundation recipient uses those words “blown up” when he tells his story – he doesn’t mince his words, and he uses humor when he speaks about his combat experience.
“The first thing that went through my mind when it happened was, dammit, I’m not getting any Christmas dinner,” LCPL Medina said. “I was the first one to see that I had lost my leg. I looked down at my right leg and it wasn’t there, so I tried to reach for my tourniquet and that’s when I noticed my left hand was missing my middle finger. I must have been running on adrenaline – I didn’t realize how severe it was until after I woke up a day later, after surgery.”
LCPL Medina was looking forward to that Christmas dinner in Afghanistan, as the other Marines serving with him in the 2nd Platoon 7th Marine Regiment Lima Company 3rd Battalion were to feast on the best of what they could find – locally-sourced meat, canned goods, rice, maybe some Ramen. Instead, he awoke in the hospital the day after Christmas, his life forever changed but happy to be alive.
This was LCPL Medina’s second combat tour in Afghanistan – he had been wounded a few months earlier, but wanted to return to combat.
LCPL Medina lost his right leg and as a result of a severely mangled right arm, he experienced nerve and muscle loss of his right elbow and hand. His left middle finger was amputated and he lost range of motion in two other fingers on his left hand. LCPL Medina continues his service in the U.S. Marine Corps and is currently assigned to the Marine Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, where he continues his rehabilitation at Brooke Army Medical Center.
On Friday, Dec. 7, LCPL Medina underwent his eleventh surgery, aimed at continuing the repair of tendons in his left arm.
LCPL Medina is married to his high school sweetheart, Megan, and the couple has one child, Aidan. LCPL Medina expects to be medically retired from the Marine Corps soon and then begin to use his educational benefits to begin working toward a career in law enforcement. Megan is pursuing a career as a teacher. He’s proud to serve his country, he said, and he joined the U.S. Marine Corps because “it is the best” branch of the U.S. Armed Forces.
“I enlisted to be a Marine, was honored to serve my country, took pride in my job and would give anything to be back with the guys in my unit,” LCPL Medina said.
LCPL Medina received the following military service medals and commendations: Purple Heart (2), Navy Unit Commendation, NATO-ISAF Afghanistan Combat medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal (2), National Defense Service Medal, Marine Corps Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Marine Corps Combat Action ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism (GWAT) Service Medal and the Marine Corps Good Conduct medal.