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Three months into his 1st deployment to Afghanistan, Capt Matthew Lampert, lost both his legs in a roadside bombing. For most people, that would mean the end of a military career. But even by the exceptional standards of the USMC, Capt Lampert stands apart. His story is proof of incredible character, epic determination, & the power of MCAF support.
After initial hospital care, Capt Lampert was assigned to the Wounded Warrior Regiment. There, he focused on his new goal: returning to his Marines on the front lines. That meant not only re-learning how to walk, but how to run, carry packs & do everything else a Marine officer in combat must do, all on prosthetic legs. Incredibly, he did that, in just 18 months. He shipped out with his unit on schedule for a second Afghan tour.
During his recovery, Capt Lampert became the 1st recipient of the MCAF's Zembiec Award. This award is named in memory of another great Marine, Maj Douglas Zembiec. Known as "the Lion of Fallujah" for his bravery during the First Battle of Fallujah, Maj Zembiec was killed in action in May '07.
"Flying across the country to receive the award was a challenge," Capt Lampert remembers. "Even walking up on stage was tough. My brothers & team members were there to help. It was great to share this award with the guys. I see the award as a reflection on my team, not just on me."Maj Zembiec's parents were there to help present the award. Like Capt Lampert, the Zembiec family appreciates the support of MCAF. "We feel like we have been adopted by the Corps," Don Zembiec says. "The MCAF has helped us feel like part of the Marine family. Doug has not been forgotten. It's good to know somebody really gives a damn."