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The daily news cycle, a patient’s privacy and a miscommunication amongst hospital staffs all contributed to an erroneous story in Tuesday’s newspaper about the purported death of a U.S. Marine. (“Marine dies despite Landstuhl burn unit's special care”, May 9.)

In short, a Marine died en route from Germany to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, only it wasn’t the Marine whom personnel at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center first thought.

“There was some confusion,” Marie Shaw, a spokeswoman at Landstuhl, said Tuesday.

As reported in Tuesday’s edition of Stars and Stripes, Cpl. Cory Palmer, 21, of Seaford, Del., died during a medical evacuation flight to Texas. Palmer was with the 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

However, Palmer was not the Marine profiled in Monday’s Stars and Stripes. That article chronicled the extraordinary lengths taken by U.S. military medical teams in Iraq, Germany and the U.S. to treat a Marine with burns over 60 percent of his body.

“He’s still alive, but he’s in very critical condition,” Shaw said.

The Marine, who has not been identified for privacy reasons, was injured along with at least two other Marines by a roadside bomb near Fallujah, Iraq, on May 1. One of the other two Marines injured was Palmer, Shaw said.

All three Marines, who had suffered varying degrees of burns, were flown to Landstuhl on May 3.

The Marine with the most serious burns received special, around-the-clock attention teams from Brooke and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

On Saturday, the Marine — as well as Palmer and the other man — were loaded aboard an Air Force C-17 bound for Brooke. Palmer’s condition worsened during the flight and he died.

News of Palmer’s death didn’t reach Landstuhl until late Sunday, Shaw said. On Monday, when Stripes made a routine check into the one Marine’s condition, it was informed the man had died, though, in fact, it was Palmer.

At first, Shaw explained, “our doctors believed it was the same patient. … They automatically assumed it was the guy they worked on.”

So while hospital staffers are relieved the first Marine is still alive, they feel awful because another one of their patients died.

Emotionally, Shaw said, it has been “like a rollercoaster ride.”

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