Libertyville Marine sacrifices much to serve country
Army Staff Sgt. Ben Macklin of Libertyville is a returning war veteran from Afghanistan; he was injured in combat. Macklin shows the letter he received commending his service from the mayor of Libertyville and his Purple Heart.| Alyssa Schueneman~Sun-Time
NAME: Benjamin Macklin AGE
HOMETOWN: Libertyville (formerly of Mundelein)
EDUCATION: 2000 graduate of Mundelein High School
MILITARY SERVICE: Served in the U.S. Marines from 2004-2009; Served in the U.S. Army Special Forces from 2009-2012 and was wounded in combat in Afghanistan in April 2012.
Updated: July 29, 2012 6:10AM
For wounded Afghanistan war veteran Benjamin Macklin, the simple task of walking is excruciating.
“I have pain all the time now,” said Macklin of Libertyville, who was wounded in combat in Afghanistan and who now uses crutches to walk because of a leg injury. “It’s like having your foot asleep 24 hours a day but worse.”
Macklin, a 2000 Mundelein High School graduate and former MHS varsity swimmer and cross country runner, served in a U.S. Army Special Forces unit which came under enemy gunfire on April 24, leaving him and two others of his unit wounded and another soldier dead.
“It was pretty much an ambush,” said Macklin, with tears welling in his eyes. “One guy died and another guy lost his leg. My other buddy injured his shoulder pretty bad and is going through rehab.”
Macklin started his military service after joining the Marines in 2004.
“I’m very competitive and I like to try to do hard things,” he said. “In high school, I was very involved in swimming. I wanted to do something for my country instead of for myself.”
After completing his service in the Marines in 2009, Macklin joined the U.S. Army Special Forces, also known as the Green Berets. After more than two years of training to become a Green Beret, Macklin was sent to Afghanistan as part of a 12-man Special Forces team in January 2012.
Macklin was a staff sergeant and part of his job duties included disarming improvised explosive devices or roadside bombs.
‘Come to terms’
“The first time I did it I disarmed eight (bombs) in one day,” he said. “You come to terms. You much pretty much accept that anything can happen.”
After the enemy attack on his unit that left him wounded in April, Macklin underwent surgery and spent about two weeks recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. before returning home to Libertyville in May.
For his brave service and being wounded in combat, Macklin was awarded a Purple Heart. Upon returning home, the village of Libertyville also issued a proclamation honoring his service and he was recognized at Libertyville’s Memorial Day ceremony in Cook Park.
“It was a nice day,” he said. “What I really remember is people coming up to me afterward and shaking my hand and thanking me for my service. Some of the prior (war) vets that were there also came up to me and said ‘thank you’ and that meant a lot.”
Too early to tell
Macklin goes for regular doctors visits at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago during his recovery and is undergoing an accelerated fitness and rehabilitation program three-days-a-week at a Libertyville rehab facility for his leg injury, which was caused by a bullet that nearly severed a vertebrae, fractured his hipbone and caused nerve damage. He said it’s too early to tell whether he will regain full use of his leg.
Macklin is involved with the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit organization that raises money to help wounded veterans as they transition back to civilian life.
As the military mission winds down in Afghanistan, Macklin hopes the sacrifices that were made by U.S. military personnel made a difference.
“I would hope that we’re having some effect over there, but I don’t know,” he said. “We sacrificed a lot.”
Macklin currently lives in a rented house in Libertyville with his wife, Claudine. They are hoping to move to Florida in mid’ July. His parents, Ray and Tracey Macklin, live in Libertyville.