Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Marine's sacrifice touches others
Story of dedication elicits gratitude By SARA A. CARTER, Staff Writer David Battle has more offers for help than he knows what to do with. The 19-year-old Marine and Victorville resident has been the center of attention since telling his story in Sunday's Sun. People from across the Inland Empire and the nation have wanted to share their gratitude for the young Marine who was wounded in action in Iraq last month and asked doctors to remove his mangled finger rather than destroy his wedding band. The ring itself was lost during his surgery. The story of his pain and dedication to his wife, Devann, touched the hearts of many both locally and throughout the nation, his family said. In Rancho Cucamonga, Steve and Karen Murray were so moved by Battle's courage and love that they decided not to give gifts to each other this Christmas. They are instead giving Battle and his wife an early Christmas gift from strangers, they said. "To find that his ring was missing, that was a nail in the heart right there,' Steve Murray said. The former Marine, who works for the Ontario-based Jack B. Kelly company and whose employees are nearly 85 percent former military personnel, raised more than $1,000 to help the Battles with finances. "This guy is out there protecting us so we can enjoy Christmas,' Murray said. "We need to show appreciation for what these guys are doing for us to protect our freedom.' The response has been overwhelming, noted Devann Battle, 19. "It is so heartwarming to know that people from everywhere care enough about us to read our story,' she said, about her husband. "He is a wonderful guy, and it is so great that people are interested in hearing his story ... that they really care about him. I'm grateful that I can share my husband with the rest of the world, and I feel like the luckiest person alive.' "I would do all of it all over again,' David Battle said, from a room at a hotel near the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Veterans Medical Center in Loma Linda where he is receiving rehabilitation for multiple bullet wounds in his leg. Battle spent Monday night munching on pizza, fielding telephone calls and watching "The Biggest Loser' on television. He's just like any other 19-year-old, he said. "People have been so amazing ... I didn't want anything in return because I did what I did for Devann out of love.' Montclair High School varsity football coach Steve Sullivant and assistant coach Daniel Pierce said their phones did not stop ringing all day Monday. "Since the early morning we've been inundated with people calling from everywhere to give to David,' Sullivant said. "People are full of kindness, and there are few kids as deserving as David.' Because of the calls pouring into the high school, the two coaches have set up a trust fund with Bank of America to help Battle and his wife. Battle was told by doctors that he should stay off his legs for at least one year. But the feisty Marine is already trying to get up and walk around. Battle was wounded when he fired at insurgents who were attacking his unit in a building in Fallujah. His efforts during the firefight probably saved the lives of his fellow Marines. Wounded, Battle stumbled out the building only to be hit minutes later by grenade shrapnel while troops worked to stabilize him. With his left hand mangled, he asked doctors not to destroy the wedding band his wife gave him, but take his finger instead. His mother says it's just the way her son is. "He has a big heart,' his mom, Sonia Cabrera, said. "I don't mind that he was injured, I'm just so glad he's back. I cried every day and night that he was in Iraq, so much, now I feel I like I have a new baby again.'