PITTSBURGH - A local veteran who has turned his most tragic day into triumph is inspiring people all our area. Retired Marine Corporal Brandon Rumbaugh makes us proud to be from Pittsburgh.
"We ended up moving to Uniontown and went to Uniontown High School. A lot of people don't know this about my story, but I moved out of my parents' house when I was in the 10th grade," Rumbaugh told Channel 11's Melanie Marsalko.
After high school, Rumbaugh said he wanted to start his life and went to college for a semester, but couldn't afford it on his own. That's when he decided to build a life in the military.
"Why not join the Marine Corps. There's a war going on, I want to serve my country as members of my family have served our country. Why not do that, get that good base and that discipline I didn't have growing up and start my life this way," Rumbaugh said.
He enlisted in the fall of 2007, completed boot camp, and was stationed in North Carolina for 3 years. He served two tours overseas. He sid his first tour in Iraq was calm. But on his second, he saw combat for the first time. In November 2010, one of his junior Marines stepped on an IED and was seriously hurt. Rumbaugh and his squad responded to the attack.
"We lead from the front. You don't sit behind a desk and we don't reap all the rewards for everything that happens. Now is my time to make the right decision," Rumbaugh said.
As a corporal and a squad leader, he made the call to go in first.
"I ended up stepping on a secondary IED. (It) took my left leg below the knee and my right leg at the hip," Rumbaugh told Channel 11. "When that happened I thought I was going to die. My life was over. 21-year-old and I thought that's it for me. I thought about everything I had done up to that point."
Rumbaugh spent the next two years recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC. He said he never questioned his decision to go in to help a fellow Marine.
"I didn't think twice. What I thought about was if I didn't go in and someone else got hurt. What if something happened to them?" he said. "I wouldn't be able to live with myself if I knowingly sent somebody in harm's way because I was being a coward and didn't want to do it myself.
Rumbaugh said that's when reality hit him. He was given a second chance to prove that his life was worth living. He now has a wife, a baby daughter and his own engineering firm. He also does motivational speaking to share his story and inspire others.
"I probably shouldn't be here today. I don't think, I know I'm where I'm at in my life solely because of the people here in Western Pennsylvania," Rumbaugh said. If I don't do something with myself it's nobody's fault but mine."
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