JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- He's the hometown hero almost killed in Afghanistan but now winning the hearts of the First Coast. Tyler Southern, a triple amputee, is downright open about his injuries.
And now the veteran is settling into newlywed life, continuing medical care, a new home and - most recently - new furniture donated by the community.
Tyler said he and his marine unit were entering a building when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan. Military investigators have told him that the way he was thrown into a wall a short distance away actually saved his life.
But "the siteunit on my rifle caught me in the eye." He said his eyebrow area was crushed. Doctors had to cut open the top of his head and fold his "face down."
Since then he's dealt with a piece of bone, which protudes from under his skin and has a chronic unique sensation.
"It's the weirdest thing," he said.
The nerve endings must still be attached because "whenever I rub my eyebrow, I can feel it on the top of my head" and visa versa, he said.
If he rubs the top of his head, his eyebrow itches, he said.
But typical Tyler-style, he doesn't complain and explains everything with a chipper attitude. He is hoping to continue in the military. He wants to be stationed atBlount Island after several more months of medical work at Bethesda.
The weird sensation is just one more detail of his new life as a wounded warrior. But, he said, "Jacksonville has been phenomenal."
He and his new bride, Ashley, are thrilled with the new home volunteers built for them in St. Johns County. On top of that, new furniture has just arrived.
Community donors gave more than $3,500 and Ashley Furniture matched that. The newlyweds chose dark wood bedroom furnishings and Tyler said the bed is just the right height for him to climb on and relax.
The couple still needs some basic furniture and Tyler is hoping to decorate what he calls "The Awesome Room," where he can put his military medals and special memories. He doesn't want to call it a "man cave."
If you'd like to donate any funds to help the couple complete their furnishings, just email Jeannie Blaylock at firstname.lastname@example.org.