By Mike Hixenbaugh
Rocky Mount Telegram
May 24, 2009
As millions pause today to honor fallen U.S. veterans, one soldier from Rocky Mount is trying to come to terms with his future as a double-amputee.
Spc. Michael Beck hoped he would be home by now, fishing off the banks of the Tar River with friends and working to pay the bills – normal stuff for a 21-year-old Nash County man.
But more than a year after landing at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., with shattered limbs and countless wounds, Beck learned this week doctors will need to amputate his remaining leg below the knee. Army doctors amputated Beck ‘s left leg several months ago, but had hoped to save his right leg, which was twisted and marred in an explosion last April.
The resilient Beck was discouraged by the news, he said, but not shocked. His mother, Lynn Beck , wept at the thought of her son without both his legs.
“I think in the long run, it’s going to be better,” Lynn Beck said. “But it’s still hard to think about. My son officially will be double-amputee in about five weeks.”
Thirteen months have passed since a mortar explosion left Spc. Beck choking in his own blood on the desert soil of Bagdad, where he had worked to train Iraqi police with the Rocky Mount-based N.C. National Guard 1132nd Military Police Company. Once he arrived in Washington, doctors optimistically suggested the Northern Nash High School graduate might be able to return home within a year.
With this setback, it could be more than two years total by the time Beck is able to return for good to Eastern North Carolina.
Beck gave doctors the OK to take his right leg below the knee after a severe staph infection appeared around a plate in the mangled limb. Doctors still hope to save the leg from the knee up.
Beck had surgery Friday to insert a rod into the leg, intended to root out infections and prepare for the amputation. He was unable to speak directly with the Telegram, as a result.