Marine Corporal Todd Nicely

Retired U.S. Marine Corporal Todd Nicely
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Marine Corporal Todd Nicely

Todd Nicely was 23 years old, when he joined the U.S. Marine Corps, feeling the call to serve after watching the award-winning film, “Saving Private Ryan. Assigned to 1st Platoon, Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Todd was a Corporal and responsible for a 1st squad which consisted of 12 Marines. At the age of 26, Cpl Nicely was the oldest Marine in the squad by 6-8 years, with many of them on their first combat tour.

Cpl Todd Nicely is one of five surviving quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (he was the second). He was six months into his second deployment in Afghanistan.

It was March 26, 2010, when Cpl Nicely was leading a patrol, they encountered a bridge and as the Squad Leader, Cpl Nicely got out to check to make sure it was clear for the convoy. Cpl Nicely wasn’t doing anything that any other leader of Marines would do, we lead from the front. The next step he took would turn out to be the step that changed his life forever. Nicely stepped on a pressure plate mine, throwing him in the air, landing in the ravine below, and amputating all four of his limbs at the same time, he lost his right arm at the elbow, left arm above the wrist, and right and left legs above the knee. Immediately after enduring the horrific blast and suffering massive injuries, he had two thoughts “just keep breathing so you can get back to your wife” and how his screaming for help scared the Marines in his squad, so he decided to shut up and stay strong.

He was medevaced to Iraq, then to Landstuhl, Germany before returning to the United States, where he had several major surgeries at Bethesda Naval Hospital, before being transferred to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. At Walter Reed with his wife (Crystal), he continued his treatment, therapy, and surgeries, while he learned to use his prosthetic arms and legs.

“I consider myself pretty lucky,” he said. “I wake up every morning and figure I have a second chance at life. So I get up and go.”

It took Todd an amazing year and a half to physically recover from his injuries and left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. However mentally Todd struggled with his demons that we all face in one manner or the other. On June 3rd, 2016, fighting those demons, dealing with his Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and being full of Marine Corps pride and loneliness inside, Todd attempted suicide. Drinking heavily, with a gun in his prosthetic hand, he called the Veterans Administration (VA) Suicide Hotline and they were less than helpful, which is sadly often the case. He was told to settle down, lower his voice and call back in 30 minutes. Who tells someone who is suicidal to call back? He went out to his back porch, hit rock bottom put the gun up to his chest, pulled the trigger, and shot himself (22 Veterans die every day due to suicide).

A few days later, we awoke in the hospital, surviving his attempt to end his life. This time around, Todd took a different path. He received counseling for his PTSD. He attended meetings about wellness and mental health. He worked with groups like Focus Marines Foundation and Joshua Chamberlain Society.

Today, Todd is much stronger (though he still faces demons) and has the right tools in his arsenal to deal with those demons. He and his wife, Crystal, separated and eventually divorced. He is since remarried (Michelle) and they are living in the Lake of the Ozarks, Lake Ozark, Missouri. Todd finds escape in playing online video games.

Todd Nicely and his gaming rig
Marine Cpl Todd Nicely at his gaming rig

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation built Todd a custom-accessible house

Homeland Diaries: America's Veterans

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