"Doc" Roe, 38, of Akron, Ohio, "and come back and feel like you're lost."
Long road to recovery
Col. Maxwell, who is back to light duty as the officer in charge of the barracks, is still recovering from brain damage he suffered in the Oct. 7, 2004, mortar attack.
He ordered the wounded Marines to stand tall and proud during a weekend trip to the U.S. Naval Academy.
"Wounded guys are still in the Marine Corps – we're not going to look like a bunch of bums," he said. "You're speaking on behalf of those devil dogs still in Iraq.
"You ain't no [expletive] privates anymore. You've been through life."
Col. Maxwell could barely speak after the mortar attack. A year and a half later, the former Texas A&M cadet, who graduated from Newman Smith High School in Carrollton, still forgets some common words.
"What's the name of that fort in Texas?" he asked.
The Alamo? "Yeah, that's it."
The guy who used to work 12-hour days or longer fatigues easily now. One foot flops as he walks, and an angry scar curves like a question mark around his skull.
A series of seizures in December set him back. But Col. Maxwell applied the same energy and discipline he utilized as a triathlete and marathon runner for his own recovery, said his father, Bill Maxwell of Garland.
And, Mr. Maxwell said, his son developed a level of empathy that his previous Marine Corps experience hadn't trained him for.
"Now that he's gone down that path," his father said, "he sees that people have psychological injuries as well as physical ones."
'The wounded live on"
The young Marines were chatting about the usual things – hot women, fat enlistment bonuses, the ups and downs of mandatory pill popping – when Maj. Gen. Richard A. Huck, commander of the 2nd Marine Division, stopped by the barracks.
More than 265 Marines from their division have been killed in action, he noted.
"We have to constantly remind them that all of this comes at a cost," he said. "Keep your heads up. That's a big part of the healing. ... And get on with it."
"They don't have a choice, sir," Gunny Barnes interjected. "If they look down, all they'll see is my boot. ... "
"Well, give them a bigger boot," the general said.
Lance Cpl. Armand "A.J." Anderson, 23, of St. Augustine, Fla., worked his way from a wheelchair to crutches to a cane. He won't be satisfied until he's back in the infantry – preferably in time to re-enlist in January.
"There's family heritage. My mom, my dad, my grandfathers," all were in the military, he said, displaying nine stars tattooed around his arm in their honor.
About half of the severely wounded in the Marine Corps stay in the service, said Lt. Gen. James F. Amos, the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general.
In the past, many of them wouldn't have had that option. The commandant of the Marine Corps announced two years ago that the injured who could do a job would no longer be pushed out.
"We want the decision to be theirs," Gen. Amos said. "The wounded live on. I want them to know that we care."
At first, he thought the best place for unmarried wounded Marines was at home with their relatives or under the care of the commanders who took them to war.