Babylon & Beyond

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IRAQ: Miracle man

May 3, 2008 |  8:32 am

Marine Sgt. Merlin German When Marine Sgt. Merlin German was burned over 97% of his body by a roadside bomb explosion beneath a Humvee, military doctors -- who have learned to be realistic about war zone injuries -- gave him only a 3% chance of survival.

But German was determined to prove them wrong. During 17 months as an inpatient at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, he underwent dozens of surgical procedures. He spent another year as an outpatient.

Through it all, his indomitable spirit became an inspiration to other wounded and burned military personnel. He was dubbed the "Miracle Man" and succeeded in not only learning to walk but to dance. His laugh and high spirits became legend.

The Pentagon announced this week that German, 22, died in April during what had been expected to be a routine surgery.

He was attached to the 5th battalion, 11th Regiment, part of the Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, when he was injured on Feb. 22, 2005, just outside Ramadi. He was two weeks from coming home.

"If Merlin were here today, there is no doubt what he would say: Fight through, stay strong and overcome _ because we are warriors," Army Brig. Gen. James Gilman, commander of the Brooke center, told the San Antonio Express-News after German's death.

Gilman's words were taken from a T-shirt that German wore as he encouraged other patients to never give up.

—Tony Perry, in San Diego

Photo: Marine Sgt. Merlin German. Photo Credit: Associated Press

P.S. The Los Angeles Times issues a free daily newsletter with the latest headlines from the Middle East, the war in Iraq and the frictions between the West and Islam. You can subscribe by registering at the website here, logging in here and clicking on the World: Mideast newsletter box here.

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