Video: The softer side of the Marines

By Correspondent
NBC News
updated 12/26/2006 7:50:41 PM ET 2006-12-27T00:50:41

Their work begins the moment a new casualty arrives at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

It is here many of the most seriously wounded Iraq war veterans begin to heal. "If you guys need anything, please don't hesitate to give us a call," a Marine tells the wounded. And he does mean anything. He is a part of the special Marine Liaison Unit, a team of 22 charged with more than just bringing holiday cheer.

They describe themselves as a five-star concierge service. It is their mission to take care of almost any need these injured Marines or their families may have. The shelves in their office are stocked with everything from toiletries to T-shirts.

The unit flew in one injured Marine's family of 12 for Thanksgiving. And planned a wedding in the hospital chapel. But they are also just a shoulder to lean on.

Sgt. Daniel Kachmar knows exactly how these Marines are feeling. He was wounded last year in Fallujah by a roadside bomb.

"They know I'm not just someone who's been pushing papers," Kachmar says. "They know that, hey, this guy's been here, he's done it. He knows what I'm going through so they open up more with me."

The Marines in this unit have been helping injured troops since this hospital first started taking casualties in early 2003. To date, they have worked with more than 2,000 troops, the vast majority with injuries caused by improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

"I knew I was being thrown from the vehicle," recalls Lance Corp. Timothy Lang, an injured Marine.  "I knew immediately it was an IED."

Lang's leg and foot had to be reconstructed. He has months of physical therapy ahead before he will even be able to stand on his own. But thanks to the logistical efforts of the liaison unit — getting airline tickets, housing and transportation — his mother has been at his side since he first arrived.

"The support has been wonderful to the family, to him," says Lynda Lang. "You know, to all the Marines it’s just been wonderful."

Marines who say they are just following their tradition of taking care of their own.

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