Midway through his speech Wednesday at Camp Pendleton, Calif., President Obama shifted from talking about military policy to highlight the sacrifice of a Marine wounded warrior and his wife, both of whom continue to serve in the Marine Corps.
Capts. Matthew and Camille Lampert, were asked to stand after Obama briefly described their last few years. Lampert was a special operator in Afghanistan when an improvised explosive device took both of his legs, Obama said. He survived that 2010 attack, and set out on a grueling recovery so he could get back to his team.
“So Matt endured excruciating rehab, therapy that could last all day, month after month, rebuilding his strength,” Obama said. “Recovery was slow: taking his first shaky steps on short prosthetics; then a new pair of knees; then full legs, taking him back to normal height. Stepping forward with two canes, then just one, then none. Learning to walk again. Learning to run — in his uniform, then his body armor. And then, just 18 months after he was injured and lost both legs, Matt — a double amputee — returned to his unit and redeployed to Afghanistan.”
Lampert and his company are now preparing for their next deployment, to the Pacific, Obama said. His wife, meanwhile, is working to become a test pilot “because, Matt says, she likes to ‘fly aggressively,'” Obama said.
“There are stories like Matt and Camille’s throughout our Marine Corps,” the president said. “They represent what’s best in our Marine Corps. ‘Semper Fidelis.’ That’s the ethic of your lives: Always faithful. Always faithful to each other — the few and the proud. Always faithful to your Corps — for 237 years. Always faithful to your country, for whom you wear the Eagle, the Globe and the Anchor. After all you’ve given to our nation, you have to know your nation will always be faithful to you.”
As I touched on yesterday here on Battle Rattle, Lampert’s story was featured in this video, produced for the MARSOC Foundation. He is still with Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command:
Lampert says in the video that the night he was wounded, he and several of his Marines moved across a bridge in Afghanistan with a couple of Afghan commandos. They entered a compound they were examining through a courtyard wall.
“I got inside the courtyard and took about a half-step to my left,” Lampert said. “There was a loud, surprising explosion, a flash… my ears were ringing. I was up in the air for a little bit, and then thrown on the ground real hard. I was pretty surprised at that point.”
Lampert credits now-retired Maj. Gen. Paul Lefebvre, the commanding general of MARSOC at the time of his injuries, with asking him to become a company executive officer and return to Afghanistan.
“I told him yes,” Lampert said. “I desperately wanted to return to my guys.”