To Iraq And Back In 24 Hours

Corporal Brent Gross, his father Larry Gross, stepmother Anne and his doctor, David Ferguson
CBS/The Early Show
Marine Cpl. Brent Gross was among the first ground troops to cross into Iraq. He was also among the first allied casualties to be taken out of that country after he stepped on a landmine.

Cpl. Gross is recovering at the Bethesda Naval Medical Center in Maryland from where he told The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith how it all happened.

He had been in Iraq only hours, he said. "We were clearing bunkers in Southern Iraq, and I had left my troops inside the track, and when I went back to get them, I got them out of the track, told them to follow me and be careful. I turned around and took about three steps and I heard a loud explosion.

"I looked around and I kind of wondered what I was doing on the ground and that's when I noticed my feet were, the boots were kind of blown up, torn out of the top, and then they came and got me and put me an a casualty Evac truck and told me I had stepped on a landmine," Cpl. Gross said.

His fiancé saw his photograph on a article on the Internet, and passed the news to his family. "When she faxed the picture I couldn't really see the picture so we looked it up on the Internet and sure enough, I blew the picture up, printed it out, and it certainly looked like him," says his father, Larry Gross.

Thirty minutes later, the family got a call from the Marine Corps saying Cpl. Gross was wounded.

Asked how he is holding up mentally, Cpl. Gross said it has been hard. "It's a little difficult to keep track of things. I'd rather be in Iraq with the rest of my troops and my buddies than to be here in the states. So it's a little rough."

Gross, 26, has served in the Marines for almost four years and was scheduled to be discharged in six months.

Dr. David Ferguson says, "he's making an excellent recovery."

Cpl. Gross had surgery on his foot on Saturday and will have to have more surgery. In terms of a long-term prognosis Dr. Ferguson says it is too early to tell. "But we're very encouraged by how he's doing at this point."