Marine Staff Sergeant John Stanz Returns

December 17th, 2009 at 10:04 am by under Jacquie Walker's Newsroom Notebook

tv-news-storyTraditionally, a television news story runs 1:15 to 1:30. This is rarely enough time to include all the elements that a reporter wants to share, but generally, we make it work. Tuesday night I covered a story which has so many layers, that I simply didn’t have time to share everything that I believe you should know.

Please follow this link to see my story about the return home of wounded Marine Staff Sergeant John Stanz then read below to see the rest of the story.


Sgt John Stanz on patrol

Staff Sergeant John Stanz on patrol in Afghanistan

Stanz says he’s not a hero — “he was just doing his job.” But, his job was riding a vehicle through bomb-strewn territory in dangerous Afghanistan. Not heroic? How about the fact that John was on his third foreign tour of duty after having been injured by a bullet through his helmet on his first tour in Iraq? What about his experience as part of the Marine Corps’ Special Operations Unit? And, here’s another mark of heroism. John is credited with braving hostile fire to get a wounded comrade out of harm’s way. He has all the attributes of an American hero. And now, he has two Purple Hearts and a life that is forever altered in service to our country.

Sandy and John Stanz

Sandy and John Stanz have been at John's bedside since August.

John’s parents, John and Sandy, can also be counted as American heroes – in a different way. Their lives, too, changed forever on August 15th, 2009, when the IED exploded under John’s vehicle. The military flew them to Germany to be at John’s hospital bedside…and they never left. From Germany he went to Bethesda, Maryland, to a rehab center outside Philadelphia, and finally home to Hamburg on December 15th. John and Sandy have not been able to work a day since the bomb exploded and have devoted themselves to John’s recovery. Now, with John home, he still needs almost constant care. Doctors have said he will require years of therapy, not only for his shattered and rebuilt knee, but most importantly for his traumatic brain injury. With this injury, every day is different and unpredictable for John and his short-term memory is damaged. While John’s medical treatment is paid for through the military, there is no compensation for his parents’ loss of income and their new and unexpected change in lifestyle.

John has required months of rehab

John's injuries were extensive and required months of rehab in Philadelphia

This altered lifestyle extends to John’s wide circle of siblings, nieces, nephews, and friends. Each of them is paying a price for John’s injuries.


John's first night home surrounded by his siblings.

Rus Thompson

Rus Thompson was among those greeting John at the airport.

Grand Island anti-toll activist Rus Thompson is keenly aware that our nation’s military veterans need additional support. He served in the Army just after Vietnam in a Special Forces unit and has seen the many changes in our nation’s treatment of veterans. He has organized a benefit on Friday, December 18th, from 7 to 9 p.m., at Tandoori’s Palms Banquet Center on Transit Road in Williamsville, to help pay for renovations to the Stanz family home. Thompson would like local contractors and suppliers to join forces to build an addition that would include a bedroom and bathroom to accommodate John’s needs. Sometimes he uses a wheelchair and his leg brace must stay on every waking hour. A walk-in shower would help.

If you would like to join the renovation effort, you may contact Rus through In the meantime, News Four will work to bring you new developments and events in John’s long road to recovery. His is the story of a true American hero.

2 Responses to “Marine Staff Sergeant John Stanz Returns”

  1. Rus Thompson says:

    Thank you Jacquie!

  2. Steve Slater says:

    Dear WIVB News Team

    Steve Slater here… I visited with Sergeant John Stanz yesterday. Please forward this note to Jacquie Walker, Don Postals (Don, Steve Slater of BCC) and Paul Peck.

    You folks did a great job with the coverage of Sergeant John Stanz return to Hamburg last December. A lot of money was raised to help John get settled back in WNY.

    Last evening I visited with John and his family.

    Sergeant John has received an invitation to attend the Super Bowl this weekend. His father, John, is traveling with him but hasn’t a ticket or way into the game…

    Does anyone on the staff of WIVB have a way in to the Super Bowl, can find a way, has a ticket for or can wangle a way into the Super Bowl game for John Sr. so he can join his hero son at the game?

    I’m a ski instructor with the Disabled Veteran Skiers of the Buffalo VA and will be working with John during his rehab…


    Stephen Jay Slater
    PSIA Level I Adaptive Ski Instructor
    EVL-VETS/Lounsbury Adaptive Program
    Holiday Valley Ski Resort

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