SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Marcus Chischilly lost his left leg to the war in Afghanistan.
The 24-year-old Marine corporal, originally from Phoenix, was on patrol in Helmand Province in October 2010 when he stepped on a roadside bomb known as an improvised explosive device or IED.
Wounded all over his body, he lay on the ground and tried to stay calm. But he recalls worrying about what he had not said to loved ones and thinking about his son, Riley, who was born on the September 11 attack anniversary two years ago.
Known to friends by the nickname "Chilly," he is stationed in San Diego. He said he plans to spend this September 11 with his son, celebrating the boy's birthday.
He plans to continue studying to become an X-ray technician, which is his career goal after he leaves the military in 2012. With the pain and loss he has suffered, Chischilly said he understands the experiences of victims of the September 11 attacks.
"If I could say anything to the 9/11 families, to the families of all the service members, I'd tell them no one died in vain," Chischilly said, in an interview in the courtyard of the Navy hospital where he receives physical therapy.
"A certain evil aimed at taking our lives and our freedom from us, and we went to take out someone who tried to take our lives and our freedom," he said.
Chischilly had been in Afghanistan for less than a month and was on a training patrol with an Afghan police officer when he suffered his injuries. The police officer was killed.
These days, Chischilly, who uses a prosthetic leg, is in the Marine Corps' Wounded Warrior Regiment, which was created to help injured troops return to duty or civilian life.
Doctors had considered amputating his right leg as well, because of severe injuries to that limb.
"I got really lucky," he said. "My nerves came back really well. My right leg didn't need amputation. Compared to the other guys, I was really lucky."
(Reporting by Marty Graham; writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Arlene Getz, Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune)