GUILFORD – In May, when Joe Ocasio participated in a motorcycle ride to raise money for the wounded soldiers receiving treatment at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, he never expected his own son would be occupying a bed at the same hospital a few months later.
“It was a good run and it was for a good cause,” Ocasio said, of the annual ride organized by the American Legion Riders from Post 189 in Norwich. “I never thought three months later my son would be in there.”
On Aug. 13, Ocasio received the phone call every parent with a child in the military dreads. His son, 24-year old Marine Lance Corporal Randy Lopez, had been wounded in Afghanistan.
“It was confusion at the beginning,” reported Ocasio, who said he and his daughter-in-law received conflicting reports about what happened to Lopez.
What they’ve been able to piece together is that Lopez - who is attached to Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine (also known as “Hell in a Helmet”) - was on foot patrol with 11 other Marines. They were returning to base when an improvised explosive devise, commonly referred to as an IED or roadside bomb, went off. According to his father, the 2005 Bainbridge-Guilford graduate took the brunt of the explosion, partially shielding at least one of his fellow Marines.