By Donna Thornton/News Editor
The day after the presidential inauguration found Corey Garmon a little tired, he said, from attending the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball, as well as two other inaugural events, with his mom and fiancée, but the experience was well worth it.
“I wish I could go every four years,” Garmon said.
Garmon, 24, of Sardis City, is living in Maryland for treatment at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He was seriously injured in Afghanistan July 11, and lost both legs as a result of his injuries.
“It was great,” Garmon said of the ball Jan. 21. “The entertainment they had lined up – it was surprise after surprise. The food was incredible, the drinks were incredible and the entertainment was incredible.”
Garmon’s fiancée Megan Forrester said the first event attended was the Kids’ Inaugural Ball. “They basically do that for military families’ children.
‘Then we went to the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball. We were able to see the President and First Lady’s first dance, and Vice President Biden and his wife’s first dance,” Megan explained.And they got to enjoy performances by Brad Paisley, Alicia Keyes, Jennifer Hudson, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Jamie Foxx.
“There was lots of brass there – lot of high-ranking officers,” Garmon said. “On base, in the real world, you don’t talk to them.
“That was pretty special, just talking to guys who’ve been in the military for 20 or 30 years who’ve seen all kinds of things,” Garmon said.
The opportunity to attend the events came about unexpectedly, and Garmon has his mother to thank.
Garmon was in the hospital for surgery the week before the inauguration – “for my last surgery,” he said. He explained that after his right leg was amputated, a machine was put in, a “wound vac” to suction away infection. The vacs can cause bone to grow in the direction of the suction, and that’s what happened to Garmon, requiring surgery to remove it. “They found out the reason mine was so painful was because a nerve had wrapped around it,” he said.
After the surgery, Garmon was visited by Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden. The Bidens were asking how he was doing (his surgery went well and he was released from the hospital Jan.11) and during the course of conversation Lori said she asked about the inaugural events.
“I asked Dr. Biden what she was wearing,” Lori said. “I didn’t know that was supposed to be so hush-hush.” She said the vice president’s wife spilled details, that her ball gown was blue and told her the designer. Lori said she recognized the name, but “that meant nothing to me because I’m not that into fashion.”
As they talked, Lori said, she said she would like for Corey to be able to witness some of the history in the making, saying she thought perhaps they could see the inauguration from a distance.
Lori said Biden told her the inauguration would be cold, but there were events that wouldn’t be out in the cold. She said he left the room, and came back with tickets to the Kid’s Inaugural Ball Jan. 19, and made arrangements for her to be in contact with his office the next day.
The next day, she talked to a gentleman named Anthony in vice president Biden’s office contacted her with a list of events and asked which ones they would like to attend.
Interviewed by phone Jan. 20, Lori said the concert – which featured Usher, Katy Perry, Far East Movement and Mindless Behavior – was great. She said she believed Corey and Megan probably enjoyed much of the music more than she did.
Her favorite, she said, was the choir – Soul Children of Chicago, performing with Black Violin.
Lori said they were seated on the second row for the show, and a lady sitting in front of them turned around and introduced herself. She said it had been a year since her husband was killed while serving.
“I’m constantly reminded how blessed I am,” Lori said. “That was pretty emotional, and she must have read my mind because she said ‘I’m glad your son made it home’
Seeing all the gravestones at Arlington Cemetery, and seeing so many who lost loved ones in the service serve as reminders, Lori said, as well as other injured soldiers.
There are five surviving quadruple amputees who served in Afghanistan or Iraq, Lori said, and they have meet two of them.
“Both are pretty amazing guys,” she said, because they refuse to let their injuries stop them.
“Corey’s doing the same thing,” Lori said. “He’s got such a good attitude.”
The good attitude is evident, speaking to Garmon by phone. He said after the surgery his leg looks completely different and feels completely different.
“I can’t wait to get my (prosthetic) legs back. I know it’s going to feel a lot better,” Garmon said. He said he expects to be off his prosthetics for a couple of weeks.
“That’s going to give my legs a great break,” Garmon said. “When I was home at Christmas I was on my legs a lot – 16 or 18 hours a day,” and his legs got really sore.
“Especially from climbing steps. At our house, where my brother usually stays is upstairs and I would go up there to hang out with him,” Garmon said. “It gets very tiring.”
With the excitement of inauguration over with, Garmon is concentrating again on his occupational and physical therapy.
Garmon’s injury required immediate amputation of one leg. After a week in ICU, and three days in the hospital, he said his doctor told him they had to do something with his right leg. “He said I could keep it, and be there for two year,” Garmon said. If the leg was amputated, Garmon said, he was told he would be at Walter Reed for one year.
“That’s the only timeline I have,” he said, for how long he will be away from home.
There is more excitement ahead for the Garmon family – as Megan will officially become part of it later this year.
Lori said the couple plan a small wedding in Maryland in May, and on July 13 they plan a celebration of life and love back home in Sardis City. Garmon’s birthday is July 6, she explained, and July11 will be the anniversary of the day he survived a horrific explosion. Lori said they consider it Garmon’s “life day,” and all those events will be cause for celebration.
“We’ll be surrounded by lot of family and friends,” Lori said. “I might ask the Bidens.”