February 28, 2008 Special Report With Brit Hume (FNC), 6:00 PM
BRIT HUME: If the Marine Corps was looking for only one good man, it could not have done better, it seems, than a sergeant with the First Marine Expeditionary Force in Fallujah, who retuned to the fight in Iraq after losing one of his legs. National security correspondent Jennifer Griffin spoke with him in the war zone.
JENNIFER GRIFFIN: Spanky Gibson was a Marine gunnery sergeant in Ramadi when a sniper bullet ripped through his left knee. He never thought heíd walk again. That was 21 months ago. Now he is back in combat Ė the first full-leg amputee to return to active duty in a war zone.
GYSGT WILLIAM ďSPANKYĒ GIBSON [U.S. Marine Corps]: I mean, I knew there was something seriously wrong with me. The round, lucky enough, severed the nerve so there was no pain. There was my first instinct Ė start returning fire, do the best you can. It didnít truly set in to me until I was coherent in Bethesda and theyíd already amputated. As soon as I realized, okay, well, it ainít growing back, so letís start recovering.
GRIFFIN: Thatís when he started training for marathons. And then there was the escape from Alcatraz swim last July, where he saw Marine Lieutenant General James Mattis.
GIBSON: And when I came out of the water after a mile and a half swim, he asked me what he can do for me. And I said well, Iíd like to deploy again.
GRIFFIN: Many asked him why. He has a wife and four-year-old daughter waiting for him in Oklahoma.
GIBSON: And this is where we were 232 years ago as a nation. Now theyíre starting a new nation. That was one of my big reasons for coming back here. It wasnít for other Marines to look at me and say, oh wow, youíre a tough guy. Youíre an above-knee amputee and youíre coming back. It has nothing to do with that. Itís part to show appreciation to, one, my fellow service members Ė fallen marines Ė and then to tell the people in this country that Iím willing to come back here to a place that some people might think that youíve been maimed by and show appreciation enough to say, hey, no, Iím back here to help in whatever way I can, again.
GRIFFIN: He landed at the same base from where he had been medevaced home.
GIBSON:It was strange at first carrying all my gear, wearing my combat load. Theyíre all firsts now. You take the first step. You take the first bath. You take the first bike ride. So to get on a helicopter again and get on the military transport, itís recovery. Itís the loop. Itís the cycle. When you come to realization that, hey, Iím back.
GRIFFIN: But he doesnít want special treatment. He coordinates firepower response for the troops in the field from Fallujahís operations center.
GIBSON: I brought five legs with me. I brought two different running legs and then two mechanical back-ups and then my primary. I take a shower in the same facility that the Marines take their showers in. I do everything the may they do it, minus just taking my leg off and hopping into the shower. Iím still 21 months into my injury. Itís kind of feeling out whatís the steps that the man can take. What limitations might he still have? I donít want to put any other Marines in harmís way because I might be limited.
GRIFFIN: But not limited by courage and a sense of duty.
In Fallujah, Jennifer Griffin, Fox News.