A local Marine, whose right arm and leg were amputated after he was badly wounded in Iraq, is recuperating at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., with hopes of returning home soon.
Lance Cpl. Mark Beyers, 26, of Elma, was one of six members of the Buffalo-based India Company of the 3rd Battalion who were wounded while on patrol Aug. 26.
Beyers -- the most seriously injured of the six -- has come out of his induced coma since being transferred to Bethesda about two weeks ago, and has been through numerous surgeries, said his father, David Beyers.
In recent days, the Alden native has been able to get out of his hospital bed, start some physical therapy and return to a regular diet.
"I can live with one arm," he told his father.
He was expected to be awarded a Purple Heart on Thursday, his father said.
Beyers wasn't scheduled to be on patrol that day in al-Anbar province, when he recalls setting off an improvised explosive device, his father said. Beyers took that shift from his sergeant.
Yet, his life-changing experience hasn't seemed to change his attitude toward the war.
"There are a lot of innocent people over there who need our help," Beyers told his family.
Beyers joined the Marines after high school and is among a group of Alden buddies serving in Iraq, including his close friend, Bruce Luck, who has been calling from Iraq regularly to get updates on Beyers' condition.
For now, family has been with Beyers, trying to keep him comfortable with DVDs and provisions other than hospital food. It's no surprise he's a little more than irritable.
"We'd rather see him cranky and alive," David Beyers said. "We're just so happy to have him."
Beyers, whose right leg was amputated just below the knee, soon will be fitted for a prosthetic leg and cosmetic arm, and be transferred in about a week to Walter Reed Army Medical Center to begin his recovery process, David Beyers said.
Beyers wants to return to the area and help his father and older brother, David, run the family business, Beyers Construction.
"He should be home by Christmas, for sure," his father said. "He wants to be home by shotgun season. He loves to hunt."