When I was asking Stacy to tell her story, she concentrated more on Mark, her son. Isn't that what a mama does? But there is more to the story than Mark unselfishly and bravely putting himself in harm's way as a United States Marine. There is a story of unwavering support for that hero.
Mark Fidler is Stacy Fidler's third child. He is 22 years old, having been born on August 28, 1989. During his first combat mission in Sangin, Afghanistan, about one week after his arrival down range, on October 3, 2011, Lance Corporal Fidler encountered a PPIED (pressure plate improvised explosive device) while on foot patrol. As a result, he sustained a bilateral hip disarticulation (both legs removed from the hip) with body damage to his lower back. He spent six months recovering as an inpatient at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland before moving to the rehab apartments, Tranquility Hall, more commonly known as Building 62.
Stacy received that dreaded phone call wherein she was notified of the tragic events. She does not recall who it was from the casualty office, but he was "very businesslike." Will she ever be able to forget hearing the words that her son had been so drastically altered?
Stacy dropped everything and rushed to be by Mark's side. She left her job on a dairy farm as a farm hand, and she left her family and friends behind. Stacy is a single mother of four. Her oldest, Amanda, 31, is a married school teacher with two young girls, the second of whom was born after Mark arrived in Bethesda. Daniel, 29, is married and in the Marine Corps. The youngest, Kelly, 18, is a sophomore in college.
It is truly humbling to stand in the Matc (Military Amputee Training Center) and watch the young men and women working out. The strength of their character and commitment to healing and being stronger and better than ever is inspirational. But what really stands out are their attitudes. They are not letting a few amputations get them down. Mark simply says, "It is what it is."
The Fidlers come from the very small community of Strausstown, Pennsylvania, which is located in Eastern PA and has only a total area of .2 square miles. "Our community is very small and has been incredible and overwhelming," Stacy said. During a visit home, an anonymous, local Lions Club member, donated the funds necessary to give Mark a wheelchair accessible van through a grant from the Bing Miller Foundation. The car they are currently using is very small, so they have to fold up the wheelchair to get Mark around. Although Mark, like all wounded warriors, is entitled to a grant for a modified vehicle for him, it is usually not sufficient to cover the cost of an appropriate vehicle and extra funds are needed. It also takes several month to process. This gift will provide the family with the vehicle they need without any extra cost to them.
Before his injury, Mark had planned to travel, ride a bull, and work on old cars. He also considered possibly reenlisting in MarSOC (Marine Special Operations). His plans have altered slightly. He can still travel, although with a little more difficulty, and he still plans to work on cars, but now he wants to buy a tract of land and raise cattle. Best of luck with your goals and ambitions, Mark!
Stacy's plans for the future are less clear. At present, she works on weekends on the dairy farm back in Pennsylvania, about an hour and a half ride. During the week, she remains in Bethesda to care for Mark. Next year, she does not know where she will be. But she knows, as long as her son needs her, she'll be by his side.
One thing is certain, with his mother by his side, and with their indomitable spirit, the Fiddlers are on the right path and will succeed.
To show your support for Mark, you can go to: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mark-Fidler-Support-Page/32501379087...
The reason I am doing these profiles is because I want to spotlight the unselfish, dedicated, behind the scenes actions and sacrifices of our wonderful caregivers as they relate to the stories of our heroes. This is in no way meant to diminish the sacrifices of our too many heroes out there. I am simply telling another side of the story by bringing some of the attention to a face of war seen even less often than the sacrifices of our heroes - the caregiver.
If you know a caregiver and hero whom you would like to see profiled, contact me!