While we rush around searching for last minute Christmas presents and securing the last of the tamales, some few Americans are still fighting their wars. They fight their wars right here in San Antonio at the excellent Army hospital at Ft. Sam Houston. Gunnery Sergeant Eden Pearl was such a warrior. On a patrol in Afghanistan in 2009, his platoon rushed out of an Afghan village. They decided to avoid an unnecessary gun fight with some local fighters. The convoy hit a huge IED. The explosion sent GySgt Pearl’s HUMMWV 30 feet into the air. The truck was engulfed in flames. He survived the blast. But, he suffered Traumatic Brain Injury and burns over 90% of his body. Later, he lost both legs and an arm due to infection. The interpreter and the driver in the truck were killed. For the last six years, GYSgt Pearl has battled his wounds in treatment and a series of operations and skin grafts. He was said to be the most severely wounded service member to survive.

Those who knew him say he was a legend among the fraternity known as Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC). He was tough and fearless. Yet, he was also devoted to his family. With his numerous skull tattoos, muscular physique, and red beard he grew during deployments, he was known as the “Viking Warrior.” He was the classic Gunny – he made the Marines around him better. He raised their level of preparation and competence. He trained the way he fought: with attention to detail. He joined the Marines from Monroe, New York in 1994. As one staff sergeant who served under him said, “He had this aura where you just wanted to follow him. You just wanted to please him.”

Even when his HUMMWV was in flames in Afghanistan and GySgt Pearl was under the burn blanket, he was asking his soldiers about tasks that needed to be accomplished. He was always the leader looking out for the welfare of his men. His call sign was “Mosh Pit” from the area at concerts where fans dance.

In the past six years, he was moved from hospital to hospital for his next level of treatment. He ended up here in San Antonio at Ft. Sam. The Gary Sinise foundation and the Brothers in Arms foundation gave a home to his family here in the Alamo City. He passed away a couple of days ago. He was 40 years old. He could barely communicate due to the TBI. While you rush around this busy day, take a moment to silently thank GySgt Pearl for his service.

See Washington Post report.