Soldier shows strength after IED injuries

Cpl. Cody Stanton recovers in a Maryland military hospital.

February 28, 2012 3:16:12 PM PST
A local soldier wounded in an IED explosion in Afghanistan continues his recovery. Cpl. Cody Stanton lost both of his legs in the explosion but his spirit remains strong.

Jan. 26 is a day Cody vividly remembers.

"I didn't lose consciousness at any time," he said. "My first thought was not me, not me."

Cody was on foot patrol in Afghanistan with the 21st Military Police Company Airborne. It was the first time he was allowed to leave his position as a gunner in a truck.

"I was very excited about it, like I was crazy excited," said Cody. "I felt too safe in the trucks. I wanted to be out there and feel like I was doing something."

The 20-year-old was following his squad leader toward a trench where other soldiers were working to clear improvised explosive devices.

"I followed behind I guess," he said. "I stepped somewhere where he didn't."

That step set off an IED. The force of the blast threw Cody in the air.

"I was preparing to beg God to either save my soul or save my life, just one or the other, maybe both," said Cody. "Initially, when I blew up, everything went black for me. I couldn't see again. But then, when I hit the ground, and I could see again, before I could even start praying and asking for forgiveness, it was like this feeling, this overwhelming feeling of love that came over me."

In that moment, Cody said he felt God's presence and knew he was going to live.

"I went from that feeling like the epitome of fear, like I've never been that scared in my life, to the point where I've never been so happy," he said.

Cody was airlifted out of the area and eventually taken to a hospital in Germany. His mother, Nancy, met him there.

"I just remember him smiling and I remember thinking, thank God he is here," said Nancy. "He's a little changed but he's still Cody."

These days, Cody is at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. His mother is always by his side.

The explosion claimed both of Cody's legs and two fingers from his left hand. He knows his recovery will take a long time but he still feels blessed.

"My life's not over. I'm going to get prosthetic legs," said Cody. "I'll be able to run. They say I'll be able to bike, even ski, scuba dive, anything. Nothing's holding me back."

He's staying away from self-pity and is finding strength in his faith and in the love of family and strangers.

"Nothing that can happen to you is bad enough that you should give up," he said.

A fund has been created through First Citizens Bank to help the family pay for expenses. Nancy is taking a leave of absence from her job at Rex Hospital in Raleigh so she can be by her son's side as he recovers in Bethesda.

Checks can be made payable to Rex Veterans Relief Fund and deposited at any First Citizens branch (Attn: Steve Bowers).

Donations are also being taken at Rex Hospital, 4420 Lake Boone Trail, Raleigh, NC 27607.

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