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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Twin Falls track star, Marine loses legs in Iraq blast

 (The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press

TWIN FALLS, Idaho – A high school track star who earned a track scholarship to Boise State University has lost his legs in an explosion in Iraq.

Marine Cpl. Travis Greene, a 1999 Twin Falls High School graduate, is recovering at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., after losing both legs above the knee.

The 24-year-old, in his third tour of duty in Iraq, was part of a team of Marines evacuating other Marines who had been injured in an earlier explosion. During the early December operation, a second explosion occurred.

Three other Marines and one Navy corpsman also lost one or both of their legs in the blast. Two were badly burned.

The injured soldiers were taken to a battlefield hospital and then to Germany before being flown to Bethesda. Greene was given 79 units of blood by the time he reached the United States.

“We had good news this morning when we walked in and saw him,” his mother, Sue Greene, told the Times-News of Twin Falls in a phone interview from the hospital Wednesday. “He was off the respirator and the swelling has gone down.”

Sue and her husband, Terry Greene, arrived at their son’s bedside Sunday. The other Marines and Navy corpsman injured in the explosion are recovering at the same hospital. The Marines Corps has provided the families with a place to stay.

Greene’s parents were notified of their son’s injuries Dec. 7 in a phone call from the Marine base at Twentynine Palms, Calif. “I was just sick,” Sue Greene said. “He is so athletic. I thought, ‘How is he going to handle this?’ “

Travis Greene’s coach at Twin Falls High School, Jerry Kleinkopf, said Greene was a top runner at the school.

“He was the first person I ever had who qualified for the state meet in hurdles as a freshman,” Kleinkopf said. “Then he qualified all four years. He broke the school record in the intermediate hurdles.”

Greene went on to finish second in the 300-meter hurdles at the 1999 state championship.

He was a junior at BSU studying criminal justice when he decided to join the Marines. “When you said to him, ‘We sure appreciate what you’re doing over there,’ he’d just say, ‘I’m doing my job,’ ” his father said.

Amy Christoffersen, Boise State University assistant track and field coach for hurdles, recruited Greene out of high school and coached him at the Boise campus. “He gave up track when he felt like he needed to go into the Marine Corps,” Christoffersen said Thursday. “He was a very talented athlete who would have had a successful career, but he felt like the Marine Corps was his calling. I’m just in shock right now.”

Travis Greene is expected to spend the next month at Bethesda before beginning rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., or another facility in Texas.

“They tell us the prosthetics these days are phenomenal,” his mother said. “If he wants to learn to ski, they’ll teach him how to ski.”