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Marinette County Marine was one of 18 service members injured in Kabul attack

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 6:47 PM CDT
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AMBERG, Wis. (WBAY) - It’s been three weeks since 13 U.S. service members were killed during the Kabul airport bombings. We will always remember their sacrifice and honor their dedication to this country.

But we can’t forget about the 18 men and women who were injured during the attack.

“Definitely can’t forget about them, because their journey, you know, some people’s service just ended, and for the men and women that have survived, their journey really is just beginning,” said Jon Ollila, a founder of Heroes Honor program.

One of the 18 injured is 20-year-old Michael Gretzon, a Marinette County Marine from Wausaukee and a volunteer firefighter for Amberg Fire & Rescue.

“Everybody that was there that was injured obviously was, you know, very close. They were all in the exact same situation and they were all willing obviously to do what they needed to do to do their job and protect the local people, themselves, and people trying to get home, and now the ones that survived, they’re fighting for themselves,” said Jon Ollila.

”It hit close to home because he’s one of us. It was his lifelong dream to be a Marine, and he accomplished that goal,” said Amberg Fire Chief Jim Parr.

Michael left Afghanistan to receive medical care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for his injuries to his eardrums, his left arm, and a traumatic brain injury.

“Everything below his elbow he’s unable to move except for his fingers, he does have some tingling in it., but still in an excruciating amount of pain,” said Jess Ollila, a founder of Heroes Honor program.

Heroes Honor, a non-profit organization and nationwide program that gives back to our country’s unsung heroes, raised almost $4,000 for his family to visit him at Walter Reed last week. Following his family’s visit, Michael was transferred to a naval base hospital in San Diego to continue receiving medical care and begin occupational therapy.

“It’s kind of a roller-coaster. It’s days where you’re grateful that you’re home and you made it back, and then there’s days where you’re remorseful that other people didn’t make it back,” said Jon Ollila.

Michael was awarded a Purple Heart for his service.

Jess checks in with Michael every day on his healing progress, and her husband Jon, a veteran himself, says right now Michael needs to focus on his mental health and physical health.

“A lot of it is just trying to mentally stabilize yourself in between those periods where there’s vulnerability, up and down, like with how you’re feeling or what you’re thinking, and the emotions that you’re dealing with,”

If you want to help a service member like Michael and hear more about Heroes Honor, click here for their Facebook page.

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