While Garwood Police Officer and Marine P.J. Lewis was attending the unveiling of the borough's Purple Heart Memorial on Veteran's Day, his good friend and fellow Marine, Cpl. Greg Caron, was a world away fighting for his life.
On Nov. 11, Caron was injured by an IED while serving in Afghanistan. Because another Marine was able to quickly apply a tourniquet to Caron's injuries, he survived. Caron lost both of his legs below the knee, a finger and broke his collarbone.
Lewis, who was no longer on active duty but served alongside Caron in Iraq, heard the news the following day. "It's killing me that I wasn't there with him," Lewis told Patch. "I was his team leader, and he was out doing the same thing we'd done a million times – searching for IEDs with dogs and robots."
Realizing Caron's injuries would require special assistance, Lewis sprung into action. First, he asked his fellow officers to make a donation.
"And they all did," says Lewis. "They've been all in from the start. They've never met him and yet they are so willing."
After the Garwood PBA Civic Association made their donation, the group decided to do more. "We wanted to do something bigger," says Lewis. "We came up with a fundraiser to help build ramps and add other modifications to his house, and to alleviate the cost of day-to-day bills." Caron is newly married and lives in Ellington, Connecticut.
The Union County Police and Fire Pipes & Drums and rock band Sharp Edge will be performing and are donating their time for the event. The $45 ticket includes food, domestic draft beer and house wine. A cash bar is available for premium drinks. There are only 350 tickets available, so order quickly if you plan to attend. For tickets, email email@example.com or call the police department at 908-789-1500.
Lewis says Caron is still healing at Bethesda Medical Center in Maryland, where he's getting fitted for prosthetics and doing physical therapy. He hopes to attend the event if he can.
"He's through the roof excited about it," says Lewis. "People in Garwood have been great. We have lots of people coming and those who can't have been asking what they can do to help instead. It's amazing."
For more on Caron, visit the website of the nonprofit his family has set up and read about how his hometown has responded on the Ellington-Somers Patch. Don't miss the great video Ellington residents made to thank Caron for his service and encourage his recovery - find it in our gallery, above right.
Have a message for Caron? Leave it in the comments and we will forward your thoughts to him and his family.