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Bismark, MO

Bismarck Injured Marine

Bismark Injured Marine
By: CJ Cassidy

BISMARK, Mo. --To date there have been at least 20 servicemen and women from the Heartland killed in the war in Iraq.  That's why we're thrilled to share the story of a survivor with you.

23-year-old Sgt. Casey Helms of Bismarck, Missouri came home last weekend, after being seriously injured earlier this month.

Casey Helms has an obvious limp and scars on his face and body, and while he's very matter of fact about what happened to him - he's also counting his blessings, because he's home again in one piece.

"There's shrapnel down my right leg and stomach and colon. I have a collapsed lung, fractured cheek bone and shrapnel in my left eye," Helms says.

It all sounds pretty frightening, but it's the wounds you can't see like the memories of the suicide bomber walking towards him - that bother Sgt. Helms the most.

"He was about 12 feet from me, and killed three others near me when he blew up. My Marine Sergeant passed away, and I went to his funeral on Wednesday. It's something you never forget," he says.

There are other memories and images Sgt. Helms says he won't forget, and many he won't talk about; but he does remember a big change during his second tour of duty in Iraq.

"It's a lot more political over there. It's not the people but the way you had to treat the Iraqis," he says.

Helms says some Iraqis were happy to see him and the other marines -others - equally not. And while Helms hopes the Iraqi people find peace someday, it's his fellow marines he worries about now.

"I miss all my buddies. They're flying back in April. I'll be standing there with a beer in my hand," he says.

Helm's stepmom can't stop crying when she thinks about what might've been, and says Casey had no idea of just how big a hero he's become to his home town of Bismarck.

" I'm really thankful he's home because we saw some boys that were hurting really bad," she says.

" I don't think there's any way to prepare for it. You just take every moment as it goes. I'm happy to be here," Helms says.

He's focusing on getting better, seeing several different doctors for his injuries.

He says he will be awarded a purple heart in the months ahead, and return to Camp Pendleton to wrap up his tour of duty.

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