Subscribe for 17¢ / day

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — His elbow is laced with purple scars from surgery. A 4-inch incision across his stomach is still healing.

Doctors have worried about it ripping open again and have told him to take it easy, but Marine Pfc. Scott Carey wants to start his physical therapy and get on with recovery.

Carey was severely wounded March 26 in Nasiriyah, Iraq, when a bullet likely fired by an Iraqi soldier ricocheted off the gas mask that hung at his side and struck him in the abdomen. Shrapnel ripped through his elbow.

Carey, 20, spent the Fourth of July recovering from surgery to reconnect his colon. Doctors said it would be the last in a series of operations.

Between surgeries and doctors' visits, Carey sits around a lot. He has spent much of his time at home with family. He can't jog or lift anything heavy. When doctors say he is able, he will work through physical therapy.

"I still want to be out there — see the action and be in the middle of the action," he said. "I don't want to be a desk jockey answering phones and working on paperwork."

He was glad to hear that Saddam Hussein's sons are dead. "It should show their father that we are coming to get him."

Still, he struggles with his war scars. Not those on his elbow, stomach or back side. But those in his head.

He can't stand strobe lights and he recently blew up at a fellow Marine who had jokingly sneaked up on him.

He has also grown a bit uncomfortable with his status as a hero and the many people wanting to wish him the best and hear his stories.

Carey understands the city is proud, but he said he was just doing what anyone else would have done.

"Really, I would just like to get it out of my mind in my own way. But I understand people want to hear it," he said.

He wants more than anything to start on the road to recovery.

"I think of what I used to be able to do and what I have to do to get back to where I was — how long it will take and the pain I'm going to have to go through," he said.

Copyright © 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.