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Old 03-25-2014, 09:54 AM
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GyBill GyBill is offline
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Durham Marine wins victory over brain tumor

DURHAM —

When Staff Sgt. Aaron Budd of Durham joined the Marines at 18, he didn't know he’d do battle with a brain tumor.

But Budd, who had the benign growth removed in October, has gone from being bedridden to making his mark in competitive archery.

As a proud member of the Wounded Warriors Battalion West at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Budd isn't letting deafness in one ear and paralysis on part of his face sap his desire to excel.

This week at the Marine Corps Trials, the 27-year-old barely missed taking a bronze medal for landing his arrows in the bullseye.

“But I didn't feel so bad when I found out my opponent had won the gold medal last year,” he said.

Archery and other sports at the Wounded Warrior Regiment let injured or ill Marines focus on their abilities and find new ways to thrive. The fourth-annual trials were held March 4-12, and included hundreds of Marines across the nation.

“They compete no matter how injured they are,” said the Durham native and Southern High School graduate. “I have a friend here who is a triple amputee, and he’s doing track and field.”

Marines call it the warrior games.

The best of the best will go in September to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Budd, who also scored well in the shooting trials, hopes he’ll be among them.

Most Marines at Pendleton were wounded in the war in Afghanistan and form strong bonds.

“It builds camaraderie, gives the guys who were severely injured something to do and shows them they can still compete,” Budd said.

Budd never realized he’d be sent to so many places as a Marine - Iraq, where he served two tours; Australia; Kuwait; Vietnam; and Japan.

In Iraq, he worked with an explosives ordnance disposal unit that responded to suspicious packages. He also drove fuel trucks and refueled aircraft.

After he was stationed in Japan, he learned about the brain tumor. He was sent to Balboa Hospital in San Diego, where surgeons removed the growth and told Budd it’s unlikely to return.

Budd said being able to walk and compete again has been a big morale booster.

“After my surgery, I couldn't walk,” he said. “I was lying in bed for two weeks before I tried to stand up. If I rolled over in bed, it felt like a merry-go-round.”

But today, Budd is full of hope, and imagines a bright future.

Once he leaves the Marines, he plans to start a business in Durham, where his wife and 5-year-old daughter live. But he knows that wherever he goes, his Marine experience will never be left behind.

“You work with such a diverse group of people, and that helps you to grow up and understand just how diverse our country is,” Budd said. “It's helped me understand and work with people better, and to emphasize peace and kindness. It’s been the greatest experience of my life.”
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