Winston-Salem, NC -- A wounded Marine living in the Triad now has one less thing to worry about: where he's going to live. Cpl. Jessie Fletcher, USMC (Ret.) was a Marine scout sniper. He served in the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines.
On October 17, 2011, during his second deployment to Afghanistan, Cpl. Fletcher stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and lost both his legs and several fingers.
"The day of my injury in October 2011, I remember stepping over the IED and the resulting blast," Cpl. Fletcher said.
Just 14 months later, Cpl. Fletcher walked out of Walter Reed to start a new life in Winston-Salem with his fiance, Emily Ball. They will marry in November 2013.
Ball still remembers when she learned about the injury. "It was pretty scary. There was a miscommunication and I thought he was dead for about five minutes. That was probably the worst five minutes of my life. Once I found out he had just lost his legs, that was a relief," Ball said.
Now, an organization called, "Helping A Hero," is building Cpl. Fletcher a new home with the help of Brad Leonard Homes and Smith Building Supply. It will be a four bedroom, three bathroom, fully accessible home to help make Cpl. Fletcher and his future bride as comfortable as possible.
"There hasn't been a more crucial element in my recovery than Emily. She held up my wings when I couldn't flap. She held up my arms when I couldn't do anything. If I needed help opening my water bottle, she opened it," Cpl. Fletcher said.
Cpl. Fletcher told "Helping A Hero," "In the past year, I've done everything from learning to walk to having dinner with the vice president...I loved every moment of being a Marine...They were the best times and worst times of my life for the past five years. I wouldn't trade it for anything."
"Helping A Hero," is a Texas-based non-profit organization. The group has awarded 90 homes to veterans in 21 states.
"Seeing this much kindness from people now really shows how strong our country is and how much they support the troops," Cpl Fletcher added.
Ball said, "I'm very excited to start our life together. It's a new journey."
Cpl. Jessie Fletcher's Official Biography
Jessie Fletcher is 24 years old and is from upstate NY. He enlisted in the Marines immediately following high school graduation in June 2008.
Jessie went to boot camp and stood on the yellow footprints at Paris Island with 2nd Battalion Charlie co. He graduated and was then stationed at Camp Giger, where he became an infantryman. There he graduated as an 0311 and was sent to 3rd Platoon Charlie co., 1st Battalion 6th Marines, 2nd Marine division Camp Lejeune.
Jessie was immediately promoted to Lance Corporal and sent to the Scout Sniper Platoon indoc. After he graduated his indoc, he made it into the SS community as a PIG (professionally instructed gunman). While he was there, he was qualified as a combat life saver and marksmanship instructor.
LCPL Fletcher went to Afghanistan December 2009-June 2010 in southern Helmand to Marjah on his first deployment, a city which they cleared as one of the U.N.'s high-priority missions. There he was a SAW gunner and observer for call sign Lacota 4. Their sniper team conducted various missions in support of combat operations.
He remained in the 2nd Marine Division and in November 2010, he met his current fiance, Emily. He coached three ranges and received High Coach for teaching the most Marines to shoot Expert and received a certificate from DMOC before going to sniper school. LCPL Fletcher attended sniper school in Quantico, VA, where at graduation he became a HOG (hunter of gunmen) and he had a new MOS of 0317. CAX followed, where Fletcher was promoted to CPL.
After CAX, CPL Fletcher was promoted to SS Assistant Team Leader. As assistant team leader, CPL Fletcher proved to be an excellent asset to his team and platoon. He worked solely with the armory to acquire automatic m4 a1s for every person in the platoon. He prepared his team for combat by doing dry runs, teaching observation skills, and applying those fundamentals to everyone's job.
He left July 16th, 2011 for his second deployment to Afghanistan. CPL Fletcher did several missions throughout Helmand province's poppy fields and mountains. 1/6 received its mission to go to Kajaki and Fletcher was in the sniper platoon attached to the forward most company. The push to Kajaki was the Taliban's final stand and the final assault for U.S. and coalition forces. Although Intelligence suggested it was heavily mined and believed to have many IEDs, the team climbed and captured the plateau as ordered from the battalion. Once they reached the top, they realized it required heavy rear security. As CPL Fletcher was escorting a Marine to his position to watch their rear, he stepped on a non-metallic pressure plate.
As a result, he lost both legs above the knee and several fingers. His corpsman attached four tourniquets and applied two shots of morphine within minutes. Meanwhile, CPL Fletcher was conscious and communicating with his team. The MEDEVAC helo came in without an armed escort into a hot LZ and as the bird landed, without regard for their personal safety, his team and everyone on the bird loaded him up and rushed him to safety.
After several surgeries, blood transfusions, and much physical therapy, CPL Fletcher is finally regaining some of his independence. He's excited and motivated to attend college in Winston-Salem, NC and to start living his new normal. Surviving this accident has been an inspiration to him. He survived an IED and still has his whole life ahead of him and he can accomplish anything he sets his mind to.