Marine Gunnery Sergeant Nick Beberniss & Leslie Beberniss: A Story of Sacrifice, Courage, and Love
Marine Gunnery Sergeant Nick Beberniss devoted 18 years of his life in service to our country. His desire to join the Marines stemmed from a desire to sacrifice for the good of others — a trait inherited from his grandfather, whose acts of service had a profound influence on Nick.
In 2004, after being critically wounded in Iraq, an incredible story began to unfold with the love of his life, Leslie. Together, they’ve traveled an awe-inspiring journey of sacrifice, courage, and ultimately, love.
Sacrifice: On Valentine’s Day 2004, Nick asked the love of his life, Leslie, to marry him — a proposal she enthusiastically accepted.
“I gave it [an engagement ring] to her in a brown paper bag. It was so romantic!” Nick said with a laugh.
That very same night, Nick deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and unknown to all, the next time they would be together, Nick would be fighting for his life.
In July, Nick’s armored vehicle was hit by an IED, critically wounding him and other members of his team. Nick’s severe injuries included two broken legs, a fractured rib cage and pelvis, a broken back in four spots, a hole in his right lung, and significant head trauma. During this time, Nick was also exposed to open fumes from burn pits, which would later play a major role in his health.
Courage: After being stabilized overseas, Nick was sent back to the States for what would become seven and a half years of surgeries, rehabilitation, and further treatment at Balboa Hospital in San Diego. But when he first arrived, Nick realized that he would never have to walk his journey to recovery alone — Leslie was there to meet him and provide an unparalleled level of support. Refusing to leave Nick’s side, she held his hand during the day and after spending all her money on hotel rooms, she began sleeping in her car at night.
Then one day, they said I do at Nick’s hospital bedside, their commitment and love for one another shining through to everyone around them as they joyfully took their marriage vows.
When Semper Fi & America’s Fund heard about this incredible couple, they immediately offered assistance that would forever change their lives.
“Little did we know, this woman — an angel named Karen — was walking the floors, and we were privileged to meet her,” said Leslie. “She changed everything from there when we heard about The Fund … They have been there for us every step of the way.”
In addition to providing Nick and Leslie with years of family support grants to ease the steep cost of monthly living and travel expenses for their family to remain at Nick’s bedside, The Fund modified Nick’s vehicle to fit his unique needs post-injury, paid for home modifications when they purchased their first home, provided funding for travel to ongoing medical procedures and appointments, and helped throughout Nick’s transition from civilian life when he retired after 18 years of military service.
Love: In 2017, Nick began experiencing new symptoms that doctors believed were brought on by burn pit exposure from his time overseas. This led to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, a disease that impacts the brain, spinal cord, and optic nerves. But with Leslie and his three wonderful children by his side, nothing could shake Nick’s immovable strength and faith.
“It’s life. That’s the way I look at it. After I got hurt, I thought ‘This is how it’s going to be for the rest of my life. I might as well enjoy it.’ Sometimes you get dealt good cards, and sometimes you get dealt bad cards. We don’t let it stop us … The Lord gave me a second chance, and I’m going to live it!” he said.
For everyone at The Fund, Nick and Leslie are a beautiful testament to the vast sacrifice, deep courage, and selfless love that has forever marked their family and greatly impacted those around them.
“In as much stuff as we’ve been through in 19 years, I wouldn’t change it,” said Nick. “I enjoy my life the way it is. I’ve got a beautiful wife and three wonderful kids. That’s all I could ask for.”