War Scars, Recovery, and Reunion for a Wounded Soldier
ANCHORAGE - Specialist Nathan Baker was sitting down with his wife Isidra Marquez and 17-month-old son for dinner.
"He loves his dad," Marquez said of the boy. A few months ago, when Baker first got back from deployment, he was a stranger to his son – someone he saw on a screen and photos.
In December of 2011, Baker was deployed to Afghanistan with the 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry (Airborne) regiment out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
After six months in Afghanistan he was hurt by a rocket propelled grenade.
He said, “We took some small arms fire up in the mountains. I was actually driving at the time, but our gun stopped working so I got out to fire at the enemy while they got the gun up."
While he was out of the vehicle, they were fired on with an RPG, and his leg was hit with shrapnel. The injury cut his deployment short. It was probably the adrenaline, but at first, he wasn't worried. "I was still standing, I saw that as a good sign. All I saw was a hole in my pants,” he said.
Baker returned stateside, where he had several surgeries. When the family reunited, the youngest barely knew him. “It was really odd. He wasn't too happy with me at first – ‘who is this guy, I have my mom, who are you?’" But it only took them a few days to get used to each other.
Marquez said being a new mom in Alaska – thousands of miles away from family – was difficult, especially with her husband gone. "It’s just not good," she said. Marquez spent much of the time Baker was deployed with family in the Lower 48. She was in Illinois when Baker called to tell her he was injured.
He is still recovering. He can run again, but will likely go through another surgery. His next career move means he can count on having more nights like these. He's planning on attending medical school in the fall.
All this time as a patient, he said, could make him a better doctor. "You get an idea of what patients go through. A lot of people don't get that perspective of what it's like to go through that. I think that perspective will help out a lot."