By Brett Gillin
Earlier this month, on August 9, 2014, United States Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Brandon Dodson was on a combat patrol with his battalion (1st Battalion, 7th Marines) in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan. He was in the middle of his 5th deployment in the last decade when tragedy struck. While on patrol, an IED exploded, severely injuring Dodson. Dodson lost both legs, fractured his pelvis, and broke several other bones.
It was an explosion and a series of injuries that would kill most men, but Brandon Dodson is not most men. Popular Military learned of a GoFundMe Campaign set up in Dodson’s honor and reached out to the organizer, David Smith, who spent a whole lot of time with Dodson while they served together in the Marines.
Smith shared that Brandon has the Marine Corps in his blood. His father was a career Marine, and Brandon is as proud as one could be to be a Marine himself. He also shared that one of Brandon’s biggest passions in life, outside of the Corps, is surfing. Smith explained “He absolutely loves to surf. Even in the barracks, he had a surf trainer on a roller that he would surf on all day. On deployments, he received copies of Surf Magazine. He just loves it.”
While Smith shares that he never quite got the “California surfer meets Marine Drill Instructor” thing, he explained that their bond was nearly instantaneous, and unbreakable. Dodson and Smith arrived at Alpha Company around the same time, which make them “boots, junior Marines, or cherries” (as he puts it) at the same time. So they bonded through the rigors of training. Then they were assigned to the same 4-man fire team.
Being together in that fire team meant that they literally were inseparable, eating, sleeping, patrolling, holding watch, running, and swimming together. They were on every mission, every patrol, and every raid together from 2003 through 2007. It practically goes without saying that the men would take a bullet for one another, so when Smith learned of what happened to Brandon, he immediately sprang into action with this campaign.
At the time of this writing, donations on the GoFundMe campaign have eclipsed $75,000, which is close to the stated goal of $100,000. We asked Smith if he thought that $100,000 would be enough to cover all of the costs, and he responded that he thought it would at least be one heck of a good start.
Smith mentioned that he is also working with the Home Depot Foundation, who has agreed to help provide any structural changes that will need to be done to Dodson’s house upon his return. Perhaps more touching, however, is the fact that Smith is working on lining up a group who specializes in training amputees how to surf and dive.
While Smith is confident that with the help of the U.S. government and the fantastic veteran’s organizations that exist to help wounded vets, Dodson will be well taken care of, he also knows that Dodson and his family deserve every bit of help they can get. Tragedy seems to strike far too often, and Smith explained that this is actually the second major loss from their small unit, as their company Gunny died in Iraq just a few months back.
If you would like to donate to the GoFundMe campaign, or learn more about Dodson, click here to visit the campaign page.