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Injured servicemen doing well

Published: Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT
Caption
Army Spc. Michael E. Shoemaker Jr.
Caption
Marine Lance Cpl. Adam Devine

DIXON – Two local servicemen injured within the last year while serving overseas are well on the road to recovery.

Marine Lance Cpl. Adam Devine, 22, of Dixon, and Army Spc. Michael E. Shoemaker Jr., 24, of Eldena, are back home and planning their futures.

Adam’s driving, walking, playing hockey

Adam was wounded Dec. 28, 2011, by an improvised explosive device and lost both legs above the knees. Less than a year later, on Dec. 8-9, he drove home from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., in his new GMC Sierra pickup with hand controls.

Adam said he is enjoying driving again.

“It’s good. It’s very freeing. Before if I had a hard day at school or work, I’d go for a drive. It’s nice to get that freedom back.”

He is feeling “pretty good, pretty optimistic,” and is “getting in the groove of things,” he said.

He received prosthetic knees with microprocessors in September, and now is able to walk with a cane.

He finds curves and steps challenging and “it’s been a little tough with the snow that just hit,” he said.

He’s “not too set on anything,” but is considering enrolling in a master’s program at Northwestern University’s Chicago campus, where he would learn to make casts and assemble prosthetics, a profession he might pursue.

“If you need prosthetics, who better to go to than somebody who knows, who can feel their pain, know what they’re going through?” he said.

He is also considering a yearlong online combat academy, Adam said.

He hopes to make Dixon his permanent home, he said.

After spending the holidays at home, he’ll return to Walter Reed in early January, where he and his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Amya, 19 months, have an apartment in the medical center in a section for troops who are rehabilitating but not hospitalized.

He’ll remain there 6 months to a year, said his mother, Kim Devine.

He has at least one more minor surgery to deal with scar tissue, he said, and he most likely will have surgery on both shoulders – they’re arthritic from being dislocated when he played rugby in college, and his manual wheelchair has put more stress on them, his mom said.

In the meantime, Adam has started playing on a sled hockey team. He’s a goalie. The team will play Soldier Field in Chicago in February.

Before he heads back to Maryland, the family plans to commemorate the anniversary of his injuries Saturday attending an Ice Hogs game in Rockford.

Michael’s home, baby on the way

Michael was loading an ammunition truck in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan on March 29 when an explosion left him with severe head injuries and hurt his right arm and both legs.

Five other soldiers were injured and one was killed in the blast.

On Dec. 6, doctors at Walter inserted a protective plate in Michael’s head; it’s expected to be his last surgery. He’s walking, and will continue to have physical and occupational therapy for an unknown period of time.

He came home 2 days later. He and his wife, Brittany, 24, are expecting their fourth child, around July 23. They are parents of Michael Shoemaker III, 5, Brayden, 3, and Hannah, 1.

Michael, a 2006 Amboy High graduate, hopes to leave the military and transfer part of his GI bill to his wife, so she can secure her license as a registered nurse, he said. They plan to buy a house in the Dixon area when he leaves the Army.

More immediately, he plans to burn the protective helmet he had to wear for months, he said.

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