Veteran of Iraq war returns

Marine Cory Hixson lost left eye in Fallujah battle in October

Signs on local businesses welcoming Cory Hixson home line the sides of Victory Way.

But Cory hasn't seen them yet.

Shortly after arriving in Craig Tuesday night, he was overwhelmed by visits and phone calls from friends. He hasn't had a chance to step away from home.

Cory, a 21-year-old Craig native, got hit with shrapnel in his left eye during a battle in Fallujah, Iraq, last month while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.

He was treated at a number ot hospitals before finally returning to Craig on Tuesday.

"It's good to see everybody and everybody's happy," he said.

He said it's hard to think about the rest of his battalion fighting while he is in the states, however. He sees his unit on television and wants to go back to Iraq.

"I don't want to be here. I want to be there just because my boys are there," he said. "Like your best friend 10 fold I guess."

A lance corporal, Cory was a squad automatic weapon gunner, known as a "grunt," with the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines I Company.

"I've known I wanted to be in the Marines since the fourth grade," he said. "Once I got older I couldn't see myself doing anything but it."

His father, Jim Hixson, served in the Marines in the 1960s and always encouraged his sons to do the same. His son Greg also is a Marine and was deployed to Fallujah at about the same time as Cory. Greg's wife, Brandy, is pregnant with the couple's second child and is due Dec. 9.

For now, Cory is living with his eye as is, and is open to talking about his experiences.

"He's not ashamed of it one bit," said Cory's mother, Linda Nichols of Craig. "He's a pretty confident kid, so it doesn't bother him one bit."

Cory said it took him awhile to get up the courage to look at himself in the mirror, but when he did, he was glad his injuries weren't worse.

"It didn't look that bad actually," he said. "I've seen guys look much worse than me."

Cory will serve in the honor guard at the VFW's Veterans Day ceremony at 11 a.m.Thursday at Moffat County High School.

He will return to Camp Pendleton in California by Dec. 4, where he will receive a prosthetic eye.

He also will find out what's next for him in terms of the military, and then decide whether he wants to attend college, possibly majoring in business.

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