By Ex-Capt. Steve Grogan, Lynbrook Fire Department
He always wanted to be a firefighter. He dreamed it as a child. And he planned on becoming one after he completed his military service.
On May 29, that wish came true when wounded warrior and now-discharged U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Marcus Dandrea was made an honorary firefighter of the Lynbrook Fire Department on Long Island. Marcus, who is still rehabilitating at Walter Reed National Military Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, and working for a cyber security company, lost both his legs after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan February 25, 2011.
The members of the Lynbrook Fire Department, who are part of Nassau County Firefighters Operation Wounded Warrior, met Marcus three years ago when the department sent a DAV bus down to Bethesda to bring wounded warriors back up to New York to attend and enjoy a street concert and fundraiser for NCFF-OWW. Marcus came on that bus in his wheelchair and a close relationship with the firefighters began.
He has come up to Lynbrook from the hospital each September to attend the annual wounded warrior fundraising concert. Lynbrook firefighters have also taken him to see the World Trade Center Memorial.
Each December when Lynbrook firefighters join other NCFFOWW members and travel to Bethesda to visit with the wounded receiving treatment and rehabilitation, they meet with Marcus and his wife, Victoria (also now a former Marine), and bring presents for their three children. They also take Marcus and his family out to dinner.
Marcus was seriously injured with massive life-threatening wounds when he stepped on that IED. Luckily, Navy Corpsman Micah Ambrose was part of his unit and worked to save this marine’s life. Micah was able to stop the bleeding and stabilize him. He then stood by his side and comforted him for over an hour while they waited for a chopper to take them off that mountain.
That corpsman now lives on Long Island and is studying at SUNY Stony Brook. Two years ago, the firefighters were able to bring Marcus and Micah together at Lynbrook’s wounded warrior concert. Marcus named one of his children Micah after the corpsman.
Marcus received a standing ovation from over 250 firefighters and their family members at the Lynbrook Fire Department Annual Installation and Dinner, where he was presented with his badge by Ex-Chief Kevin Bien, who chairs Lynbrook’s annual wounded warrior fundraiser.
Marcus told Ex-Chief Bien, “After my injury, the idea of ever being a firefighter was lost. But, now you and the Lynbrook Fire Department have made that dream come true.”
“We are proud to have you as a member,” Ex-Chief Bien said. “Thank you for your service and thank you for your sacrifice.”