Family in far places
August 3, 2010
OL-E CHARKI, Afghanistan - U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Gerardo "Josh" DeAvila was wounded in action while on patrol in Marjah, Afghanistan July 10.
Although he was half a world away from home, DeAvila was quickly surrounded by family and friends, due to a strong military family and community.
DeAvila, part of Company I, 3rd Battalion of the 6th Regiment, heard shots fired and then felt what he described as "a baseball bat" hitting him. Shortly after a medic came around, DeAvila saw the blood and realized he had been hit.
DeAvila was evacuated to Camp Dwyers and then Bagram Airfield for surgery. Doctors discovered he had actually been shot twice. One bullet missed major arteries in his arm; the other barely missed his spinal cord and lodged in his pelvis.
Meanwhile, U.S. Army Maj. David DeAvila, serving in the northeastern region of Afghanistan, received word from home that his nephew Josh had been hurt.
"I myself am on orders with the 82nd Airborne attached to the 101st at Camp Blackhorse as the day shift chief of operations," said Maj. DeAvila. "I received text messages from the States that Josh had been hurt and would be headed to Germany."
Maj. DeAvila cleared it through his chain of command to arrange transport to BAF and be there for his nephew.
"I was able to spend 12 hours with him, feeding him water and juice through a straw and helping to keep him comfortable. I sat by his bed the entire night," said Maj. DeAvila.
The DeAvilas are a close-knit, very pro-military family. "It was a bit difficult for me to see him in that condition ... I held Josh the same day he was born," Maj. DeAvila said. "In fact, my son David, a staff sergeant in the Army, and Josh are more like brothers than cousins," said Maj. DeAvila. Josh's father recently joined the National Guard after being out of the military for 20 years.
According to Maj. DeAvila, Josh kept waking up, asking if his uncle was comfortable.
He said he told his nephew, "I have been in the Army longer than you have been alive, don't worry about me."
Maj. DeAvila helped transport his nephew to the bus that would take him to the flight line. There, a plane awaited that would carry him to Germany for more surgery.
Once in Germany, Lance Corporal DeAvila got another surprise - the chaplain who came to visit him was Chaplain (Col.) Douglas Kinder. Kinder had married Lance Corp. DeAvila's parents as a civilian pastor in the U.S.
According to Maj. DeAvila, Lance Cpl. DeAvila is now recovering at home.
"Everyone I tell this story to, is amazed at the coincidences.