— By SALLY SEXTON
“It’s good to be home.”
Those were the words Marine veteran Marcus Burleson said as he stood in the driveway of his parents’ home in Weatherford Friday afternoon.
Burleson, a former explosive ordinance disposal technician, was named the 2014 recipient of the Spirit of a Hero Foundation, a non-profit which aids wounded warriors in and around the DFW area.
In December of 2011, Burleson was severely injured in Afghanistan when a bomb he had been disarming detonated in his hands. The explosion caused extensive organ damage, severe burns, shattered bones and a brain injury and Burleson lost an eye and his right arm below the elbow. His left arm was paralyzed.
To help ease the pain, Burleson underwent a rare spinal surgery in July of 2012 at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md. Under a microscope and tiny electrode, 140 burns were made to the damaged nerves on Burleson’s spinal cord.
The surgery was a success and, after a long recovery period, Burleson was finally discharged and came home to Weatherford, driving down from Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
“It feels good to finally be transitioning out,” he said.
The Spirit of a Hero, along with Cyberhorse Construction and Home Depot, have been working the last month to remodel Burleson’s parents’ house to fit his physical needs.
A wall was knocked out to combine and office and bedroom into a room with more space for mobility, and a bathroom partition was taken down to provide more room as well. A new shower door, complete with a Marine logo, was installed, along with a bidet, complete with heated seat, new tile flooring and a special adjustable mirror.
“They tried to surprise me but I found out before-hand. I guess I’m smarter than they are,” Burleson said. “I was completely astonished. They have done an amazing job for having such little time.”
There is still work to be done before the remodeling is complete. In the meantime, Burleson has made himself at home in the living room he temporarily calls a bedroom.
“Most of my bags are still in the car,” he said.
Earlier this month members of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association Chapter 23 installed a flagpole and plaque at the Burleson home.
To further honor the staff sergeant, Spirit of a Hero is currently planning a massive motorcycle ride May 17, which will start in Saginaw before heading up Interstate 35 to Denton, over to Interstate 35 east to Dallas, and ending at Rick Fairless Strokers Dallas.
Rick Turner, with Spirit of a Hero, said a Fort Worth police department escort will be present, and fire departments in Lewisville will be breaching their ladders over the interstate to hand an American flag for the procession to ride under.
Past recipients of Spirit of a Hero will also be present, as well as the brother of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle.
Anyone interested in contributing to the organization or joining in the ride can go to www.spiritofahero.org or visit the non-profit’s Facebook page.