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NORTH COVENTRY, Pa. — An IED blast in Afghanistan left Marine Cpl. Grant Cantrell III with a traumatic brain injury and a choice: Would he have his severely injured legs amputated, or endure intense physical therapy to save them?
Blisters from burns covered his feet and lower legs. They looked “disgusting,” Cantrell remembers thinking at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
He waited out the pain while some of his wounds from the Sept. 28, 2011, explosion healed. When he was able to begin physical therapy, he tried baby steps, feeling like a young horse unsure whether his wobbly legs would hold him.
Cantrell’s mother, Sandra Cantrell-Edwards, was at his side when President Barack Obama pinned a Purple Heart to his shirt at Walter Reed. But he asked her to leave near the end of his seven-month stay, so he could surprise her with his progress.