You'll find a photo of CPL Farrell Gilliam on the Ferrell's Fight FaceBook page that was taken Thursday morning at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda Maryland. He's been there since January 8th. A month has passed since his Mom Lisa Gilliam of Fresno arrived at his bedside. She and other family members are posting his progress on Ferrell's Fight FaceBook page for friends and family around the country.
Despite his serious condition, the young man is in better shape than he was after the injuries he sustained in the Helmand province of Afghanistan.
A close friend of Lisa, David Sicherman, told us what happened: He took the full force of the land mine himself, no one else on his patrol was injured." Corporal Gillian lost both legs at the knee, has a damaged right arm and extreme internal injuries. His purple heart was presented at his bedside by General Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps.
His brother, Daniel, told us by phone Farrell always wanted to be a Marine, "You brace yourself for the worst, the Colonel with the knock on the door. He's a Marine but nothing prepares you, never in a million years do you think of seeing this."
The 22 year old Marine's mother Lisa, a nurse at Children's Hospital Central California, served in the Navy herself. She too is with him in Maryland supported by funds raised through her synagogue, Temple Beth Israel. They are accepting donations from anyone who wants to help.
At Children's Hospital her co-workers are donating vacation days so he can afford to be with her son as long as necessary. They are also pitching in with relief from other worries. Dr. Michael Allshouse told us everyone is pitching in, "Whether it's your family at work or whether it's your family, your extended family, it's important to people do that. I think it was really cool how everybody kinda stepped up, and decided when they found out about Lisa's son they were gonna do everything they could to help her."
And help is coming from other places as well. The young man had a surprise visit from Cindy McCain, Senator John McCain's wife. She has taken an interest in his care with good reason. Her son is in Ferrell's outfit and she has arranged to fly some experts from the Palo Alto V.A. Rehab Unit to Maryland to talk with him and his family about what can do for him there when he's ready to leave this critical care hospital.
Right now family members tell us this young man is working hard on his limited rehab exercises despite his serious condition. He has had numerous surgeries but it is that hard work that will eventually bring him back to California for prosthetic rehab and back in the company of Marines in Southern California after that. As his brother explained, "He wanted to be a Marine, right out of high school."
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