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'Smart' house gives war vet more independence page 2
Quadruple amputee Afghan war vet receives keys to "smart" home in Spotsylvania County, says others are the true heroes

 Yolanda Ruescher, a neighbor and military nurse, embraces Sgt. John Peck after the Veterans Day ceremony to dedicate the specially designed home for him in Spotsylvania.
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Date published: 11/13/2012


In 2008, Peck received the medal after suffering a brain injury as a result of an explosion when his vehicle passed over an IED in Iraq.

When he recovered, he re-enlisted and rejoined his buddies in combat in Afghanistan.

He was on a dismounted patrol there in 2010, clearing the way for less experienced Marines, when he was wounded a second time.

"None of my guys had combat experience," he said. "So I decided to take the metal detecting job, which is the guy usually the first in patrol up front, sweeping for land mines, IEDs, everything."

The patrol entered a compound.

"I went in first and started sweeping the doors, then the interior," Peck recalled. "Everything was all right. I said hey, 'Guys, we're good.' The rest of the guys started going through the rooms there.

"Everything was fine," Peck said. "I went and told the sergeant I was going to go outside and stand security while they searched. As I went to turn around, I put my left leg forward. And the next thing I know, I'm thrown through the air. I felt something hit me in the head like a very, very hard rock--or it was my feet. I've come to believe it was my feet."

He looked up and saw the other Marines standing over him.

"I kept saying, 'I don't want to die here,' then I blacked out. The next thing I remember is feeling the rotor wash from the helicopter--a nice cold breeze. And I'm like, 'Don't let me die here.' And my guys were putting me on the helicopter. Then a medic said, 'You're going to go to sleep for a little bit.' And I said, 'OK, I'll see you guys tomorrow.'"

Peck woke up 2 months later at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., after having been put in a medically induced coma.

"At the time I was married, and I saw my mom and my wife there. And they asked me if I knew what was happening and I said, 'No, not really.' I told them I felt some sharp pain in my feet. And they said, 'John, you don't have feet anymore.'"

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