Sam Dean | The Roanoke Times
Not ready for civilian life
When autumn arrives, Jordan's leg is shrunken, the muscles atrophying, leaving him frustrated that rehabiliation has not started. His hand remains painfully stiff despite more therapy and surgery.
Still, he's confident he will return to active duty soon. He's certain he'll be able to run, shoulder a heavy pack, pull a rifle trigger with a different finger when he returns to Camp Pendelton in California.
"I'm going to be gung-ho when I go back," he says. "I don't know -- I could be an even better Marine."
(Sam Dean | The Roanoke Times) Randi Foust Sherwood, wife of Jordan Sherwood
He doesn't like to think about the possibility of being forced out of the Marines, which have given him direction in life and job skills. He doesn't feel ready for the civilian world -- he's only vaguely thought about life out of a uniform. He loves the Marines and wants to re-enlist for another four years, although he no longer wants to make it his career. He thinks the repeated deployments are too hard on Marines' families.
Although he's only known Randi briefly, family life is something Jordan starts to think about. After their class ends in August, Randi joins Jordan and Ginger at their Roanoke home, where she lives for several weeks before returning to her Marine base in Hawaii.
She quickly becomes part of their family, falling in love with Jordan and doing "girl things" with Ginger like shopping and getting a manicure and pedicure. Jordan goodnaturedly cautions his mother not to make Randi "prissy," given that she wears combat boots for a living.
Ginger likes Randi, has a motherly sense that she and Jordan will marry one day, which makes her worry even more -- not just a son but a daughter-in-law who may go to Iraq.
By fall, Jordan also starts to think about the Catch-22 he will encounter when he returns to Camp Pendleton to face a medical review board: If he stays in the Marines, which he wants, he could be sent back to Iraq, which he doesn't.
He hopes his two tours and two Purple Hearts will be taken into consideration, that he will be given cushy duty as an embassy guard, maybe in Europe. But he knows he may end up in Iraq again; the Marines have relatively few combat cameramen, only about 400 out of 178,000 total Marines, and they are needed badly on the battlefield.
He thinks: If it happens, it happens. I don't want to go back and I don't feel guilty about it. I worked my ass off over there.