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Readers offer support to Pasco Marine who lost both legs in Afghanistan

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December

soldier.jpgTimes reporter Drew Harwell writes about a Pasco Marine losing both legs in Afghanistan in today's story. The story begins with compelling details of how Larry and Jill Dalla Betta got the news about their son:

Larry Dalla Betta answered the phone in the kitchen of his Trinity home.

"Is this Larry?" an operator asked. Dalla Betta said yes. Then he heard another voice, speaking from half a world away, sudden, strained:

"Dad, I've been hit. I've lost both my legs."

As depressing as the story begins, the story had an inspiring end to it with details about U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Justin Gaertner's upbeat attitude. 

"In the days since the explosion, Larry Dalla Betta said, Gaertner has regained much of the spunk that attracted him to the 'leathernecks.' He has flirted with nurses, pledged to ride his motorcycles again and joked with his parents that his Christmas list included roller skates."

The story clearly has struck a chord with tampabay.com readers as it has become our most viewed and most discussed story today.

I would like to thank our members who have joined the discussion and offered their support to Gaertner and his family. Here's a look at the 10 top rated comments (as of 1:40 this afternoon):

"Many thanks to the family and this fine young warrior! Semper Fi!" ~ GoMets

"God Bless our troops. Now bring them home." ~ VeteranTeacher

"I was at the youth football game on Saturday when we did a moment of silence for this young man. It made me cry. Thank you for your service and I will keep you and your family in my prayers."  ~ CoolinPasco

"I just love that, Semper Fi! I have a son in the Marines, too but luckily he's never been deployed. Thank you Lance Cpl. Gaertner and good luck to you. You and your family are in my thoughts." ~ Madge

"Thank you for your service, you are a hero!" ~ Georgina

"Thank you for your service. Prayers for you and your family." ~ Jada

"Let us not ever forget the sacrifices these brave men have made for us. I hope he is given the finest rehabilitation services that our nation has." ~ ImaPopulistNow

"Time to bring our troups home. Enough of this killing and maiming!!!! While the fat cats sit in washinton doing what ?" ~ YlPatriot

"To make this Marines tradgedy a voice for getting out of war is sick. You folks had time to go to the polls and vote. Now is the time to honor all those who serve. To this young marine I wish he and his family the best. His recovery will be the rest of his life. The wounds may heal but you never forget.

Semper Fi. Doc Mike Hill US NAVY retired." ~ Tylrhill

"If you love this land of the free, bring them home, bring them home." ~ Razzlegator

Read the story about U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Justin Gaertner, then share your feedback in the story's comments or here.

[Last modified: Wednesday, December 1, 2010 2:05pm]

    

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