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Event raises $2,500 for Marine injured in Afghanistan

From left, Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Billmyer is recovering  from war injuries at Bethesda Naval Hospital. He wants to stay in the Marines. With him is actor Jason Acuna.  - Contributed photo
From left, Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Billmyer is recovering from war injuries at Bethesda Naval Hospital. He wants to stay in the Marines. With him is actor Jason Acuna.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Islanders raised more than $2,500 on Dec. 11 for Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Billmyer, nephew of San Juan islanders, who was severely injured by an IED explosion in Afghanistan.

The event was presented by the American Legion Auxiliary in the Legion Hall in Friday Harbor. Singer Jill Urbach and the One More Time Band provided entertainment, and donated their fee for the evening to Billmyer.

Billmyer, the nephew of Steve and Bobbi Billmyer of Friday Harbor Harbor, lost both of his legs in the explosion Oct. 23. He is being treated at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Steve Billmyer said his nephew, who had dreamed of being a firefighter or police officer, is in good spirits — and wants to stay in the Marines.

“He already is looking forward to being an expert swimmer when they get his arms working right,” Billmyer said.

According to the family, Lance Cpl. Billmyer is making good progress in his recovery, and has started physical therapy to stretch and build muscle, so he can better manage his prosthesis.

The lance corporal and his parents attended a dinner at the Australian Embassy; dinner companions included the Australian ambassador, former World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, and senior officers.

“A surprise visit by actor Robert Duvall and his wife was very inspiring. (And) he has learned that the British ambassador will host a dinner at the end of the week and he looks forward to that opportunity.”

Billmyer is at least the fifth service member with local ties injured since the U.S. sent military forces to Afghanistan and Iraq in 2003; two others were killed in action.

After his injury, American Legion Post 163 in Friday Harbor sent a check for $1,000 to his mother to help pay her costs of travel to Bethesda from the family home in Dubuque, Iowa.

There are several ways islanders can help Billmyer meet future expenses related to his injuries:

— Send a donation to the Christopher Billmyer Fund, c/o American Legion Post 163, 110 First St. N., Friday Harbor 98250.

— Send a donation to the Lance Cpl. Christopher Billmyer Benefit Fund, American Bank and Trust, 895 Main St., Dubuque, Iowa 52001.

— Send a letter or card to LCPL Christopher Billmyer, National Naval Medical Center ICU, 8901 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, MD 20889.

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