By Debbie Gregory.
Marine veterans Christian Brown and Nick DelCampo have been close friends since they joined the Marines in 2009.
In 2012, while on their second deployment, Brown stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) while leading his squad on foot in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Both of his legs were blown off- one above the knee, the other below the hip. He also lost part of his right index finger.
After Brown’s injury, and throughout his recovery, the two stayed in touch, and in late October of this year, they met up for a wounded veterans deer-hunting trip in Pennsylvania.
While in the area, the two Marine vets were offered tickets to a Steelers and Patriots football game on Oct. 23. When they arrived, they both received signed jersey’s belonging to the Steelers’ offensive tackle Alejandro “Ali” Villanueva, himself a former Army Ranger.
“When I was standing for the pledge, to me, that was a respectful thing to do today with the defiance in the government, toward police officers, and pretty much toward everything that’s good,” Brown said.
DelCampo captured the moment in a photo that has now gone viral. The caption reads:
“This is my best friend, a silver star recipient who lost both his legs from an IED in Afghanistan. We went on two combat deployments together and he’s been my right hand man since day one in the Marine Corps. Regardless of his injuries, standing on what’s left of his legs for the National Anthem. I understand that our government needs some serious change and there is real race problem that needs to be fixed. The American flag is a symbol of freedom, liberty and human rights. It is a symbol of our home and all that we believe in. A symbol men and women rally behind, whether on our shores or foreign shores. “
And just in case anyone concludes that Brown’s Silver Star is a result of that fateful day in 2012- it’s not.
The Silver Star Medal was awarded to Brown for his actions while leading his squad during a foot patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on Dec. 7, 2011, when then LCpl. Brown and his squad came under fire from several positions by insurgents. Brown led his squad in a counterattack against the attackers.
After one of his squad members was critically wounded and the initial landing zone was deemed unsafe for the medical helicopter because of gunfire, Brown organized his Marines to secure another landing zone. He then carried the wounded Marine almost 1,000 feet under enemy fire to the helicopter. After safely evacuating the victim, he and his squad were able to fight the insurgents off.
“Somebody’s got to be an example, whether it’s favorable and people like it or not, I’m going to stand for what I think is right and that’s just the way it is.”