Marine battled back, yet fell to suicide
Infantryman who lost legs in combat seemed to be triumphing, but invisible wounds proved fatal
Reposted from the UT press sandiego By Gretel C. Kovach
But Cpl. Farrell Gilliam had endured far more by the time he died this year at age 25 than most people could comprehend.
The Camp Pendleton infantryman survived three months of combat in 2010 with the “Darkhorse” 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment in Sangin, Afghanistan — one of the deadliest battlegrounds of the war.
Amid firefights and insurgents’ bombs, Gilliam saw limbs strewn across the ground. He loaded broken, bleeding bodies for medical evacuation, and grieved for the friends they could not save.
Gilliam’s tour ended early when his legs were blown off by an improvised explosive device, or IED. “Farrell’s Fight,” his struggle on the homefront that his big brother helped him chronicle online, included more than 30 surgeries and three years of rehabilitation.
It was a story of triumph over wounds that would have been fatal in earlier conflicts. A story that was coming to an end, but not how anyone who knew him expected.
Gilliam was months away from a medical discharge from the Marine Corps and a new life as civilian college student. Physically, he had one surgery left to remove hardware in an arm. Psychologically, he was suffering from invisible wounds he hid behind smiles and upbeat banter.
Or so his family discovered on Jan. 9, when Gilliam committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in his barracks room in San Antonio.