Where a heroic Marine and Israel intersect

Capt. Derek Herrera is a United States Marine who was paralyzed from the chest down when he was hit by a sniper’s bullet while serving in Afghanistan.  On Friday he was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroism.

Herrera was determined to walk to receive the honor.  And walk he did, thanks to the ReWalk exoskeleton system that was developed in Israel by a physician who is quadriplegic.  (Unfortunately, he is not a candidate to use the very system that he developed.)

Fitted for a ReWalk exoskeleton, Capt. Herrera walked during the ceremony to receive his Bronze Star.  CBS News reports (video embedded):

Herrera had vowed to walk at the event that also marked his retirement after 8½ years in the military, saying he wanted to leave the Marine Corps the same way he joined. He has gone from fighting on the battlefield to becoming a strong advocate for veterans.

"I'm not out of the fight and I'll continue on," he told his battalion on Friday, adding that it was "truly an honor and a pleasure to stand before you today."

Herrera was the first person in the United States to purchase the ReWalk system recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to the company, ReWalk Robotics Ltd.

The special operations officer was honored with the Bronze Star for his actions on June 14, 2012, when the patrol he was leading came under heavy fire in Afghanistan. Herrera continued coordinating efforts while receiving treatment for his own spinal injury and collapsed left lung.

"The bravery and fortitude he displayed inspired his men to heroic feats as they valiantly fought to save the lives of their wounded team members and repel the enemy assault," wrote Maj. Gen. M.A. Clark in recommending Herrera be recognized with a Bronze Star. (snip)

Herrera is working on a master's degree in business administration at the University of California, Los Angeles and plans to start his own business.

"Every day is a choice to live, love, inspire, honor the fallen, make the world a better place and walk in the footsteps of giants," Herrera wrote in a Thanksgiving holiday column published by UT San Diego in 2013.

God bless Capt. Herrera.  God bless the Marines and all of our men and women in uniform.  God bless the United States of America.  And God bless Israel.

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