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Information and Updates for LCpl.  John D. with 2/7 Weapons
Last Update: 11/10/2013             << Back to list


Operation PAL Participant Lance Corporal John received two gunshot wounds to the leg while on combat operations in Iraq in March 2007. He has nerve damage and will need extensive repair work to be done. (John subsequently suffered a major brain injury)

Update: 7/3/07: LCpl. John has been fitted with a leg brace & is currently walking & doing well in his recovery.

Update: 1/26/08 Chris (John's Mom)called to say John has been in a coma for 9 days now. He was doing well - taking pre-law classes - doing an internship - but suffered a double infection that has resulted in heart and brain damage.

Update: 2/23/08 Mom says his wounds are being treated but he's now been transferred to a hospital specializing in severe brain injuries because he is still unresponsive. She asks that you pray for his doctors - that they may perform the miracle he needs with their skill and tools of treatment.

Update: June 2008 Click on "Website" and you can read the journal John's family is keeping. Mom recently said: "I think he is beginning to see. At times, he tells me that he can see and it looks like he is tracking but when you ask him specific questions, he does not answer them correctly. I know in my heart and soul that JT will see again and that he will walk and be able to share with others Gods love for him and all his children. Thank you all for your continued thoughts and prayers. Love,Chris"

Update 6/21/08 from Chris: "With all of your prayers and God's grace, JT is able to communicate. He can tell me when his eye itches so I can rub it for him; when his leg hurts so I can ask the nurses for pain meds; when he's down and doesn't feel like going on anymore. Those times are the worst. JT is still blind and cannot walk or move his hands, legs, arms, etc. in any purposeful way. However; I know in my heart that he will be back to us 100%. God brought him back from the brink of death and I firmly believe it's to testify to God's love and strength for all of his children....us.
Love and my thoughts, prayers and tears all go out to you. I was in your shoes last year and wouldn't want to be in them now. I can't think of anything worse than what we are all going through. Love, Chris"

Update: 7/12/08 Excerpts from Mom's latest post: "Hello friends and family, ....
He requires 24 hour care due to his immobility and his inability to see. I'm hoping we can get a house ASAP as I'm very, very tired of not being 'home'. The Fisher House is wonderful, but it's not home.
JT had a pretty rough week. His eyes were deviated to the left and the left side of his body was flexed and rigid. On Thursday, during cognitive rounds the doctors suggested it could indicate stoke and ordered a bunch of tests for yesterday (Friday). The good news is that when I got to the hospital, JT's eyes were back to normal and his body wasn't rigid on the left side anymore.
This morning he's his normal 'happy, go lucky, self'.... Love to all, Chris"

Update: 9/12/08 from Mom: Hi Friends and Family,
I'm sorry it's been so long since I've updated the site. Time flies by so quickly and I can't seem to take care of JT's needs and take care of all other details too. Great news though!! We've found a house for JT!!! It's going to be perfect. We should close the 3rd or 4th week of October.
We're going to have one of the walls moved back to make one of the bathrooms bigger and then have JT's 'master suite' right off of the family room. He's really, really excited about getting out of the hospital and getting to his new home. Physically, he just keeps on improving little by little. He still can't see nor control his arms or legs but you can just see that he's more there. Take care everyone. Please keep those prayers coming. Love,Chris

Update: October 2008 - John will soon be 'retired' from the USMC. There is a big ceremony planned for October 15.

Update: October 2008 - from one of our members after going to John's retirement ceremony: Over 75 people attended, including other wounded, Doctors, Nurses and MANY MANY Marines and soldiers. JT looked great in his uniform and his mother made a little speech - while I cannot quote the whole thing, the guts of it were:
She said that he is her hero and will always be, that he is coming back to become the JT that she remembers. That he decided to volunteer after 9/11 and she was behind it. She said that one thing happened in the last week or so that made her know that JT was coming back "A group of high school ROTC students visited JT in the hospital and the boldest one, without the filters that we may have asked him - JT if you would have known exactly what would have happened to you and where you are today, would you still volunteer? And his answer was YES. What a Marine and YES WHAT A HERO."

Update 11/19/08: from Aunt Patty....JT is doing very well. The doctors have him on a preventative headache medication and he still gets "pain in the brain", but I get him to bed and relaxed and have had to give him no narcotics since Friday!! He is usually in such a good mood and when he isn't I know something isn't right, he needs his chair adjusted or hungry etc.
Chris is home, packing up for the move. I guess they will be delayed but that's alright it sounds like JT's house will be delayed also.
Keep the prayers coming, they are working! Pray for Bryan to find work when he gets here.
Love Aunt Patty

Update 11/29/2008 JT's headaches have disappeared. He had one headache the time I was there. He does have pain in his knuckles as he is tightening his hands so much. Chris is having some reflexology done on him and his hands have loosened quite a bit. He may have some botox injections to further lessen them.
JT's schedule will be so busy the next couple of weeks, basically in therapy or classes with a break for lunch until 3:00. He has occupational therapy, yoga, recreation therapy, speech therapy and physical therapy. He recognizes most of the people he deals with on their voices so he does have memory retention, but the process to get from short term memory to long term is a mystery to me. He is seeing like shadows and some movement so that is exciting, but he doesn't have sight like what we see.
Just being around him will lift your spirits and he usually makes you laugh! Love to all of you, Aunt Patty

Update 12/18/2008 We understand that the family has been able to move into their new home. I know this is a great accomplishment and we could not be happier. He will have regular visits back and forth to the hospital, creating a commute, but they are ready to have their own place and the new donated van will help tremendously. Much happines in your new home John and family.

Update: 12/25/2008 John says "Merry Christmas" to everyone. Mom says they're starting to get into a bit of a routine and things are starting to settle down a little. JT's home health nurse is awesome and couldn't have asked for a better match for JT.
"Even at four o'clock in the morning, JT is still good humored - even if mom isn't. He has such a beautiful spirit that I consider it an honor to be able to care for him. JT is still here, he is getting better; but most important he is happy. We are blessed to have him and are honored to be able to care for one who dedicated his life (and sacrificed his freedom) for the rest of us."

Update 2/15/2009 From Mom:
Hello friends and family,
It is with a heavy heart that I must pass on the news that JT's dad passed away. He was diagnosed with cancer in November and although he fought a tough battle, the cancer had spread throughout his body. We're thankful that Tom got to come out 2 weeks ago to be with his son one more time. JT is going to miss him terribly. Tom wasn't the best father while JT was growing up but he had really stepped up to the plate after JT became an adult. They had bonded and Tom has been a great dad over the last few years. Please pray for Tom's ascent to our Father's house and for comfort for those who loved him.
JT is doing ok. He's taking his dad's death very hard. I kept him out of therapy last week so today is his first day back. He continues to improve little, by little, by little.....

Update 03/08/2009: John's mother reports that a little over a year from his brain injury, he is making miraculous improvements. He is speaking more and more and has stated "I am a walking living testament." In addition, John's sight is beginning to return. This is such good news, he is truly an inspiration to everyone. John recently celebrated his 26th birthday with friends and family. Happy Birthday John!!

Update 7/1/2009 Latest news and excerpts from Mom: JT continues to improve on a daily basis but along with the good comes some unexpected side effects like deciding he doesn't need to sleep and "wakes up several times a night!! 'Mom, I need a drink! Mom, I'm hungry' etc., etc." She says every day is like Christmas, she is not sure what he is going to say or do, but it is all good. AND, he is seeing much more consistently now. During his vision therapy this week at the VA, he named every single item his therapist held up. TRULY WONDERFUL!!! JT has regained almost complete control of his left hand and fingers and can open his hand and put it into a fist at will. She says "He is even biting his fingernails!! I know most people wouldn't be overjoyed about that, but those of you who have been following JT's condition would understand that the motor skills required for that are huge!!" He has also been able to start using more muscles in his legs and can now push himself up in his wheelchair. Cognitively, the changes continue on a daily basis. He likes to joke a lot and make his family members break out laughing. JT's Mom says she will continue to do everything in her power to get him as good as he possibly can be and took JT out of the country to have stem cells implanted at the end of April. A second trip may be needed. JT, we are so excited about all your good news. We continue to be inspired by your fighting spirit and your amazing recovery!! Please continue to pray for JT and his family and send him cards and letters of encouragement.

Update July 16, 2009 JT was greeted at the Denver airport last night by a very large gathering of family, friends, fellow veterans, and many other fine residents of that city. THANK YOU!! His biggest wish was to get home to Denver and thank everyone for their support. It had been more than two years since some had seen him. They all came to express their appreciation for JT and to honor him for his service. JT said "I am feeling much better now, in fact I feel like a million bucks. I am alive and still think I can make a difference in this world!" JT's Mom is so grateful for everyone's support. He continues to work hard, making good progress with his rehab. Please continue to send best wishes JT's way,your words of encouragement are very meaningful for him.

Update September 13, 2009 John's aunt recently posted "Talked to Chris the other day and the one thing about JT I can report is she had him partially standing in his fancy wheelchair (it can go from sitting to standing) and she told him 'Won't it be nice when you can sit up?' He says 'I can sit up!' And he did! She's sure he's holding out on everyone. I think it's funny. So his core muscles in his abdomen are definitely improving with all the PT he's getting." Keep up the great progress JT, you continue to inspire us!! Please keep JT in your thoughts and prayers and send him best wishes.

Update 11/11/2009: JT was honored, with his family in attendance, by the Marine Corps League Detachment 061, Ocala, at their annual Marine Corps Birthday Ball. Honored, were Purple Heart recipients representing three generations at a banquet Saturday, November 7, 2009, celebrating the 234th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Marine Corps. "John, 26, said he joined the Marines in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. On his Marine dress blue uniform, Doody wore insignia identifying his participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Global War on Terrorism. Predominant on his chest was his Purple Heart." After the other Purple Heart recipients were introduced, a cake was presented and the first piece went to the Marine who served in a paymaster's office from 1943 to 1945. According to tradition, he passed that serving to John as the youngest serving Marine in attendance.
Ooh Rah JT!! Continue your strong recovery, we are so grateful for your service.

Update: 4/6/2010 Recent information from John's Aunt tells us they've been opening up a lot of his "fan mail" and have been reading it to him and they've all enjoyed what has been sent.
As far as how he's doing, he's doing wonderful. As Chris says "his filters are definitely working" and he's handling his frustrations much, much better. He can move both his arms at will. He can open and close his left hand when he's asked to or wants to and scratches his head, nose, etc., and can even push his glasses up on his face.
He can see pretty much all the time now. He really likes having the little dog laying on him. The cat "Socks" is pretty much HIS cat and he didn't really like cats much before his injury. Socks has changed all that.

Update: 9/13/2010 from Chris:
"We finally got the swim spa for JT - THANKS TO INJURED MARINE SEMPER FI FUND!!! JT's CNA and I got JT into the pool for the first time by ourselves this morning. He absolutely LOVES IT!! He says he's spoiled and LOVES HIS LIFE!!!

He continues inspiring me every day. He's got such a positive attitude - 99% of the time - that it's hard to not be inspired. Not much has changed for him physically but each little step is a milestone and I know that the water revives him mentally and physically."
John, we wish you many happy hours in your swim spa.

Update: 7/11/2011 The swim spa is great but it doesn't keep this family home! Our photo was taken on a summer outing and John goes where everyone else goes. Lookin' good John!

Update 7/28/2011 There is a new addition to the family - another little dog that keeps them all entertained. (We've had new puppies and don't know if "entertained" is the right word ;) but we're glad John has more company.

Update: 8/11/2011 from Mom: John's been working hard in Physical Therapy, including lift-and-multiple-therapist-aided first steps.
To add to that good news, she said they just got the BEST NEWS EVER! At John's recent neurology appointment, the Dr. said JT made his YEAR! He is very impressed with JT's continued improvement and now here's the news: the Dr. said that JT's brain will continue to heal indefinitely!
This news brings tears to our eyes and smiles to our faces. Go get 'em John!

Update: 1/18/2012 a reflection from Mom: Fourth year anniversary-

"Friends, family and loved ones....
Today marks the fourth year anniversary of the date that my son lay dying in his medical hold room. The son that I had birthed, loved and raised was dying. It was right about this time in the evening that I got 'the call'. I couldn't understand how my son could be 'sleeping' in the emergency room and why I needed to get on the first flight the next morning when I had tickets to go visit him in 3 days.
Needless to say, I was oblivious to the horror that was to come. My flight took off early the next morning and had a lay-over. Both my sisters and brother in law met me at the airport. My sister Patty went up to the counter and purchased a plane ticket to go with me with only her ID.
When we arrive, we were met by the Head Chaplain and the Commander of the San Diego Marine Division. I knew in my heart something was tragically wrong but I kept a cool head. Patty was crying on my shoulder, I think.
Once we got to the hospital, they asked if I wanted to see the doctors before I went in to see JT. I said, "yes". Almost immediately, a team of at least 10 doctors and nurses met with us in a private room. They told me that JT had suffered from an infection and had gone without oxygen for quite sometime. He had suffered from a series of strokes, anoxic brain damage and numerous other side effects. He was 'not awake'. He was on life support, being kept alive by machines.
The first time I saw him, it didn't look like my JT. His eyes were open and dilated and his body was oddly swollen - especially his hands. I thought he was already dead.
I don't remember much of the next few weeks. People came and went and it was a blur. I spent most of my time sitting next to my son and trying everything I could to bring him back.
After 15 days on life support the medical team had to do an emergency extubation. His breathing tube was clogged from the pneumonia and they could either extubate him or trache him. I said, 'no trache' - he won't want to live like this'. Thank God he breathed!
On April 29th - nearly 5 months of being vegetative - JT started talking again. What a blessing my 'new JT' is each and every day. I love him with all my heart but will always miss the JT I lost on January 16, 2008."

Update: 6/16/2012 John's Mom told us that John is able to raise and lower his arms on command. He also lifts his head up off the bed along with his arms. She assures us that he will be sitting up on his own very soon. His healing continues and his progress is amazing. We don't know if this will work but copy/paste the following into your browser and hopefully you will see the video Chris posted on June 12 https://www.facebook.com/chris.ott.718

Update: 6/17/2012 John's stepdad posted today that John is in the hospital with pneumonia and blood clots in his lungs. He is expected to be there for a few days.
We hope you kick this, JT, so you can get back home and impress us with more progress. {{{{hugs}}}} to you all.

Update 6/19/2012 Bryan says that JT is to come home today and the timing could not be more perfect. It's Chris' birthday and she could not ask for a better present than JT being ok enough to return home. Happy Birthday Chris and welcome home JT!

Update: 6/20/2012 According to Mom JT is still very sick but she feels she can take better care of him at home. That's why he was released after only two days. Please keep his continued healing in your thoughts and prayers as his strength returns.

Update: 7/14/2012 from Mom - JT has been in a lot of pain lately and she'd like prayers that the source of it can be found and eliminated. He's had a rough go lately and can use all the strength you can send him. Mom too.

Update 7/26/2012 from Mom "JT is back in the hospital :( Lot's more fluid in lung than a month ago. Need lot's of prayers." - and more - "Talked to doctors this morning. They studied JT's cat scans in more detail. The fluid does not appear to be pneumonia, but the amount of fluid in his lung compared to last month is pretty substantial. In addition to more fluid he also has fluid around his lung. They also put in a pic line today so they don't have to keep poking him.
Tomorrow they're going to take him into radiology and drain out the fluid with a needle. They will be studying the fluid and checking for any type of infections, although they don't expect to see any.
One final note, he tested positive for MRSA this time as well. So we're going to be on precautions which means those lovely yellow paper gowns.
Thank you friends and family for your continued prayers and support!"

She had just been so happy to announce that JT has recently been able to take his glasses off and hand them to her. That's a huge accomplishment. Let's hope he gets back to progressing instead of taking these steps backward.

Update: 8/1/2012 from Mom - "JT is out of the hospital!!! Yahoo! The doctors drew the fluid off of his lung on Friday. The lung expanded again once the fluid was removed - Praise God! They also tested the fluid for any infection and there was none. Now he just needs to keep doing breathing excercises to keep the lung expanded. Dr's said it would be 4 to 6 weeks before it heals.
Now he needs your prayers that the VA will allow us to monitor his INR levels at home using a finger stick method instead of going in to the clinic and having his blood drawn continuously. JT's DONE with getting poked. After these last 4 years his poor veins have pretty much had it, so it is really hard to draw blood on him.
Thank you all for all the prayers and virtual hugs!!! - Chris"

Update: August 10, 2012 from Mom - She's asking for prayers that JT's "Chest pains" go away for good. He mentioned them again yesterday and she said that three times lately to the emergency room is too much.

Update: 9/13/2012 Chris is asking for prayers again. She says "They admitted JT. The fluid (or whatever it is) in his right lung has expanded again. They're not sure what it is. They are putting a chest tube in tomorrow. I AM VERY SCARED. In addition, looks like he has another clot in his left lung now. Please please pray for him."
We will, Chris. We will.

Update: 9/14/2012 from Mom "Chest tube is in. They will do a CT scan on Sunday to see if they are satisfied with the amount of fluid that comes out. If not, JT will have to have surgery where they will basically scrape the inside and outside of his lung. Doesn't look like he has another clot on the left. He seems fairly comfortable right now. Thank you for your prayers will update tomorrow. They think it might have injured the lung with the first blood clots and that the injured lung hasn't healed and accumulated more blood because of the blood thinners he's on now - at least that's what the doctors are hoping."

Update: 9/19/2012 from Chris - John will be having the surgery today or tomorrow to clean off the lung. We will update you as soon as we hear. Thank you for your prayers.

Update: 9/21/2012 from Chris "Docs just came out. They are going to keep him intubated until morning because of how long surgery took. They cut out the dead part of his lung which wasn't very much. They'll keep him sedated. All main lobes re-expanded so surgery is considered successful at this point. Will update in the morning"

Update: 9/22/2012 from Chris "Jt in a lot of pain but that was expected. Surgery seems to have been successful. He doesn't even need oxygen. JT is in awesome hands so I came home to get some rest and take a much needed break. Thank you everyone for your continued prayers as he's got a long painful recovery ahead of him."

Update: 9/23/2012 Chris says it has taken a while but now JT's pain is under control.
So now just heal, JT. That's your mission Marine!

Update: 9/26/2012 JT had another rough patch but Mom today says "Jt doing phenomenal! Both chest tubes are out and HE MAY GET TO GO HOME TOMORROW! Thank you for all of the prayers. What a difference a day made!!!"
This is awesome news. Now just heal, JT and don't let them see you coming around to that hospital anytime soon, OK?

Update: 9/28/2012 from Chris "JT still in hospital. Has pneumonia. He will be out of SICU when a single room on the floor opens up. He's not complaining about pain tho. He and a couple of buddies spent the afternoon watching Dexter."

Update: 10/2/2012 from Chris. JT is home. The recovery is expected to be long and painful, but he's home.
Let's pray he stays there and that the recovery reality is not as bad as the expectations.

Update: 10/24/2012 JT's checkup last week went well and the doctors are pleased with his progress, but this week began with an earache. It was caused by buildup which will have to be cleaned out every three months. Chris said she was "amazed at what came out of there!"
Hopefully now his ears will feel better and he can concentrate on healing his lungs.

UPDATE: 11-10-13 We found out recently that John was honored during the opening ceremonies at the 25th annual Ruskin Seafood Festival in late October. A wonderfully written news article about John and his Mom can be found by following this link: http://www.tampabay.com/news/military/veterans/with-mother-at-his-side-a-wounded-veteran-fights-to-stay-positive/2149205


















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