Meet the Ziegel Brothers, American Heroes

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Nov 12, 2007 4:20 PM
You've probably seen Ty before, in his world-famous wedding photo.

He was severely injured in a suicide bomb attack in Iraq in 2004. He returned home to a long, grueling recovery and litany of surgeries and medications, to a life that was suddenly uncertain, and to a love that was anything but:
As the scale of his injuries sank in, his heart tightened. One arm was a stump and his remaining hand had only two fingers. Later, his big toe was grafted on in place of a thumb. One eye was blind and milky, as if melted, and his ears had been burnt away. The top of his skull had been removed and inserted by doctors into the fatty tissue inside his torso to keep it viable and moist for future use. He was a mess.

Renee received the news that he had been blown up from his mother and father, who asked her to come over. They didn’t dare tell her until she reached their house. The next morning, on Christmas Eve, they flew together to the Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas and set up a vigil at his bedside. “He was a strange charcoal colour, but Ty still looked like himself,” says his mother, Becky. By the time his burnt flesh had been removed, he didn’t.

“I don’t remember saying it to Renee, but I’d have understood if she’d said, ‘Yeah, I’m out of here,’” Ty says.
They were married in 2006. Ty's brother, also a Marine is now in Iraq as well. CNN linked the two of them up on Veterans Day. It's emotional, to say the least.