LIHUE — The sight of five U.S. Marines trotting up to the Lihue Airport Wednesday night took away any words from Katie and Ralph DeQuebec.
“We had to be here,” said Artis Jemison, a Marine serving with Tropic Care Kauai from San Diego. “It’s the brotherhood.”
The DeQuebecs are recipients of “Vacations for Warriors,” a program sponsored by American Airlines to help bring the nation’s wounded warriors to Hawaii and other locations.
Ralph said he wanted to wait until he was out of his wheelchair and walking on prosthetic legs before traveling.
“Vacations for Warriors — I couldn’t thank them enough,” he said.
Ralph DeQuebecs is a Marine assigned to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
“He lost both his legs during a mission in Afghanistan in 2012,” , said Lynn Aylward-Bingman, a coordinator for the Vacations for Warriors program. “He also plays sled hockey with the Wounded Warriors USA National Development sled team along with Rob Easley who visted Kauai in August with his wife Megan.”
He is awaiting a medical retirement from the Marine Corps while continuing to undergo treatment at Walter Reed. He hopes to make the U.S. Paralympic team.
Originally from San Pedro, California, Ralph was an all-around athlete, including being named an All-Los Angeles linebacker during high school. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in June, 2002 and changed his specialty to Explosive Disposal in 2005, serving in Afghanistan as part of the 3rd Special Forces Group unit.
He was injured June 21, 2012 and has since undergone more than 30 surgeries.
Katie is an Air Force veterans and served in the Explosive Ordinance Disposal unit. She is studying to become a nurse at the University of Maryland.
The DeQuebecs will be on Kauai through July 5, leaving for Oahu, then Maui.
The crew from American Airlines Flight 0285 joined the festive welcome which many officials.
“American Airlines is a supporter of, and a sponsor of Vacations for Warriors,” Aylward-Bingman said. “They donated 1 million air miles to Vacations for Warriors to use to bring service people like the DeQuebecs to Hawaii.”