Never left behind: Rangers help build house for wounded comrade
April 6, 2010
FORT BENNING, Ga. (April 5, 2010) -- RyAnne Noss said she has learned what Rangers mean when they say they'll never leave a comrade behind after going through the past three years of her husband's recovery from a traumatic brain injury.
RyAnne said she has received a number of gifts since her husband, Sgt. 1st Class Scot Noss of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, was injured in Afghanistan during his eighth deployment.
Last month, a group of Rangers helped kick off the construction of RyAnne and Scot's new home in Trussville, Ala. The house is being donated by Homes for Our Troops, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization that builds specially adapted homes for injured Soldiers.
Noss was the most severely injured of those who survived the February 2007 MH-47 Chinook helicopter crash. He is currently in the emerging consciousness program for minimally conscious patients at the Kessler Institute of Rehabilitation in New Jersey, RyAnne said. The Nosses are scheduled to move into the home in June.
The 2,400-square-foot, four-bedroom house, a handicapped-accessible van and RyAnne's student loan being paid off are a few of the gifts they have received from various sources.
"I know it's a blessing because I didn't search these people out," she said. "They have found me. I can't wait to get Scot home and be able to create our new normal."
RyAnne said the donations have made it possible for her to stay close to her husband since the accident. She spends much of her time dressing, bathing and preparing him for the therapy he receives six days a week. RyAnne is learning to care for Scot at home.
"It has been hard to pick up the pieces, even three years later," she said. "But I believe God provides for his children. Even though we don't have the miracle of recovery right now, I know it can happen if it's God's will."
Staff Sgt. Ryan Lonergan, one of Noss' former squad members who also survived the crash, traveled to Alabama with about 20 Soldiers from the 75th Ranger Regiment to lend a hand to the Homes for Our Troops project.
The Soldiers worked alongside professional volunteers, and some carved their initials in the house's frame.
The home is nearly 40 percent complete, said Christina Brooks, a volunteer event coordinator for Homes for Our Troops. Brooks said the home will have an elevator and a finished basement for visiting family members or nursing staff.
"We had people who drove two hours to come work," she said, adding that nearly 70 percent of the project has been done by volunteers.
"It was truly amazing," Lonergan said. "I've known (Noss) for years, so I wanted to go. But there were people there who didn't even know him. They just wanted to help someone who served our country and got seriously injured."
Lonergan recalled not having much time to react during the accident in Afghanistan. He suffered three cracked vertebrae, a collapsed lung, broken hips, a shattered knee, severe internal bleeding and burns on his hands. Lonergan spent nearly a year-and-a-half recovering before returning to the 75th Ranger Regiment and deploying again last year, he said.
Although he will begin transitioning out of the military soon, Lonergan said his concern for the other Soldiers was his motivation to return to the Rangers.
"While I was in the hospital, I never once thought I wasn't going to try," he said. "I wanted to be back with those guys. I didn't want to leave them."
Lonergan said he is confident Noss feels the same.
"He's like every other guy in the Ranger battalion - he loves his job," Lonergan said. "I wouldn't doubt if he recovered tomorrow, he would want to do (physical training)."
RyAnne said Scot has progressed to nonfunctional arm and leg movements on his left side. She echoed Lonergan's thoughts.
"If he didn't have such a severe, debilitating brain injury, I have no doubt in my mind he would do everything in his power to go back to the Rangers," she said. "They definitely haven't left him behind. Every single person I've met has wanted to help." And RyAnne remains loyal to the unit.
"I married a man who is committed to his country, to his job and to the Rangers," RyAnne said. "If he wanted to go back, I would support him 100 percent."