09 November 2007
By Dennis Ryan
FORT MYER, Va. -- Exactly two months ago 2nd Lt. Mark Little was patrolling in Iraq, when he was wounded by an improvised explosive device. He lost both of his legs.
Wednesday morning at the Iwo Jima Marine Memorial, Lt. Little stood proudly outside on his new prosthesis for the first time to receive the silver bars of a first lieutenant.
Brig. Gen. John D. Johnson, special assistant to the commanding general of the Installation Management Command, called Lt. Little a "proven leader" and someone who "has already made sacrifices for his nation" before pinning the bars on the Soldier.
"This is a guy who gives so much to his country," Brig. Gen. Johnson said after the ceremony. "The attitude he has is inspiring to see. That's the epitome of a Soldier. We've had Soldiers such as Gen. [Frederick M.] Franks [Jr.] who've lost limbs and gone on to great careers. It's what's in your heart and what's in your head that matters."
In May 1970, Gen. Franks was wounded in action in Cambodia. His leg was amputated below the knee and, after rehabilitation, he remained on active duty. Franks went on to lead 146,000 U.S. and British forces during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. His units rolled more than 250 kilometers in 89 hours to liberate Kuwait in February 1991.
1st Lt. Little served as a sergeant in an engineer battalion with the Virginia National Guard while attending George Mason University.
His father, a veteran of the Korean War, Fred Little, proudly pinned a silver bar on the lieutenant's hat. "Everything was just the way it should be," the father said.
Girlfriend Rebecca Kelley also helped with the promotion."I think it's fantastic," she said. "He surprises me every single day. He got into the states on the 11th of September. His progress has been amazing, the blood transfusions, infections, the things he had to overcome."
Lt. Little was admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center Sept. 11.
Kelley said Little did not want to receive his promotion sitting down. "He was determined to stand up today," she said. "He just got the left leg Monday."
The young officer was fully aware the statue behind him contained Marines. He grew up in the Arlington-Fairfax area and said he has always loved it and the locale. "It shows overcoming adversity and this is what I am doing," Lt. Little said. "This is my first day with the left leg outside of the hospital. I got it Monday. Yesterday was the first day I stood up on it. I took 20 steps on parallel bars yesterday."
"Walter Reed is a wonderful, wonderful place," the new first lieutenant said. "I've experienced nothing but great care there."