I just wanted to share this story with you guys and let you all know how I'm doing. I completed my second 5k this past Saturday out in Los Angeles. This was my first one out of the wheelchair! The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund has continued to show us tremendous support by flying us out there and putting us up for the weekend. It was an honor to give back by participating in the race and it supported a great cause.
- Cpl. Matthew Sondermann
February 21st was also the premiere airing of the HBO film "Taking Chance". I hope all of you living in the US were able to see it. If you're not familiar with the story about the Marine Officer who volunteers to escort the body of a fallen Marine back home, see this summary post and links at Blackfive (with film trailer).
Like Matthew Sondermann, many of the members of "Team Semper Fi" who ran in honor of LCpl Chance Phelps have been wounded in action - a few of them just six months ago. If you look closely at the photo above, you'll see that Matthew ran the race with a "halo" traction device on his right leg.
Matthew was injured in Afghanistan by an IED explosion on June 14, 2008 while serving with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. He suffered suffered multiple compound fractures of his leg and forearm, lacerations on his face and eye and third degree burns on his legs.
The blast severely injured Matthew, along with 3 other Marines who were riding in the Humvee.
"He said his brothers came right in and scooped him up in spite of possible secondary IEDs and sniper fire," according to his father Erich Sondermann.
Family friend and fellow Soldiers' Angel Kathy Sweeney contacted me to let us know Matthew had been hurt. Finding out that a loved one has been seriously wounded causes a time of extreme stress for their families. But when I spoke with Matthew's mom, Linda Araouzou, she told me why this notification was particularly horrifying for her: She had received an almost identical call seven years ago saying her other son had suffered a serious leg injury in a motorcycle accident but was alive. Erich Sondermann Jr later died of his injuries.
But this time was different. When she was able to speak with Matthew he told her, "I can think clearly, I can see, and I'm alive".
After a brief stay at Landstuhl, Matthew was medevaced to Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas, and we've been following his progress ever since.
Congratulations on completing the Run4Chance race, Matthew! Here's to many more.
To honor the Run4Chance team’s participation in the race, HBO donated $10,000 to the Chance Phelps Foundation. HBO is also sponsoring Run4Chance teams in various races around the country throughout the rest of the year. For more information, please visit the Run4Chance website.
Through the Chance Phelps web site and the charities they support it is the Foundation's hope that people will never forget the sacrifices of those like LCpl Chance Phelps.