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Marine Recovering from Snake Bite That Cost Him Half a Leg

Anthony Kemp was hiking with two fellow Marines outside Fort Sill, Oklahoma when a rattlesnake came out of nowhere and bit him on the calf.
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A Marine bitten by a rattlesnake while on a hike with two friends in Oklahoma lost half a leg but not his sense of optimism — or humor. "I'm good. A little lighter, but I'm good," 2nd Lt. Anthony Kemp, 23, said Thursday by phone from OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where he had just endured his seventh surgery since the Feb. 7 attack. "I'm trying my best to stay positive about the entire thing."

Kemp was bitten on his left calf on a Saturday hike in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Fort Sill, where he was training to be an artillery officer. His two friends, also second lieutenants, led him to a park ranger, who helped get him to a hospital. The two-inch bite, about as deep as a pencil eraser, filled his lower leg with venom, damaging muscle and tissue so badly that surgeons had to amputate it below the knee, his mother, Michelle Magrino, said. He also required 32 anti-venom treatments.

Kemp, who is from Glen Cove, New York, is in stable condition and only recently emerged from a days-long haze. He said he was just starting to think about his long-term recovery. When the amputation process is finished, he expects to start rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. And he hopes to find a way to stay in the Marines. "I'm not getting out just yet," Kemp said. "We'll see about career options and stuff. I'll take it one day at a time."

Kemp credited his two friends, 2nd Lt. Taylor Quackenbush and 2nd Lt. Matthew Holliday, for saving his life and countless fellow Marines who've visited him and helped keep his spirits up. "I'm definitely not going through this by myself," he said.

— Jon Schuppe