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    From Walter Reed to Happily Ever After

    BETHESDA, MD, UNITED STATES

    10.17.2020

    Courtesy Story

    Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

    Retired Army Capt. Stephen C. Maguire and his wife Susan (“Suzy”) share a love story with roots established in the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC). On Sweetest Day, and every day, they celebrate a love that was by all accounts, meant to be. Fate certainly seemed to have a hand in the Maguires’ story, as evidenced by the life-altering circumstances leading up to the day they met.
    It was early 1969, and then-First Lt. Maguire, a recent commissionee of Officer Candidate School and new Ranger School graduate, was ordered to Vietnam where he would eventually command a battalion reconnaissance platoon with 6/31 Infantry. Less than a year after his arrival in Vietnam, on November 6, Maguire was leading a patrol when a soldier triggered an explosive device that sent Maguire spiraling and left him with severe wounds and total blindness. Grappling to come to terms with his injuries – and the realization that his brief military career would come to a premature end – the young officer languished for weeks in his hospital bed near Okinawa, Japan.
    Many injured soldiers were transported from Vietnam to Army Camp Zama prior to returning to the states. “They didn’t bring you straight home,” Maguire explained during a recent interview. “They didn’t want families to see the Soldiers looking bad, so they kept them until they were a little better (physically).”
    After 7 weeks, Maguire left Camp Zama for Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he remained for more than 17 months. While there, the young officer placed a tongue-in-cheek “free unclassified ad” in student newspaper of nearby American University.
    In what would prove to be a providential move, American University co-ed Susan Jamieson and her roommate Sharon saw the ad and thought it would be great fun to cheer up heroes returning home from Vietnam to a less than positive welcome. After an amicable introductory phone conversation, Susan was unable to connect her second call and alert the young officer of her pending visit. Instead, the two ladies surprised the wounded soldier, catching him without his eye patch and “snoozing the day away.” Maguire had not “warned” Susan about his total blindness, and upon meeting her, offered an exaggeration of sorts, “I didn’t tell you before that I can’t see, not very well, anyway.”
    Their attraction was swift, with Maguire later declaring he quickly knew, “This is the one.” After a brief engagement, the pair married August 22, 1970 in Walter Reed’s internal chapel, beginning an adventure that would last five decades and counting!
    Maguire says it took some self-reflection to recognize that, like others wounded in Vietnam, he “defined (himself) as a Soldier. It’s hard to learn a new role. The concept of being a veteran was difficult to accept….but I had to redefine myself.” Marrying Susan gave him a new role as a husband, and eventually as a father.
    After Steve Maguire’s retirement and Susan’s graduation, the couple left Washington, D.C. and moved to the young Captain’s home state of Connecticut, where Maguire enrolled in the University of Connecticut. There, he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. Pursuing a new career as a counseling psychologist, Maguire, his wife, and their three kids (at the time – soon to be six) moved to Ireland where he worked on his doctorate, before accepting a position as the clinical director of an Army drug and alcohol treatment center in Germany. Eventually, the Maguires returned to the states, living in New Hampshire for a while, until shortly after the turn of the century, they returned to the Washington, D.C. area. The events of 9/11 ushered in change for the nation and provided a new opportunity for Maguire to use his experience as a wounded warrior and his academic training.
    Maguire says he “really had come full circle” in 2007 when he “rejoined his other love, the United States Army, again at Walter Reed (National Military Medical Center)” where he was hired as director of the hospital’s Soldier Family Assistance Center. In his new role, Maguire department serviced wounded warriors returning from the Global War on Terrorism and assisted them and their families with navigating the various services and resources available from a nation eager to demonstrate its support. “It helped me fulfill my desire to contribute to the Army as a civilian,” Maguire asserted, but it also helped “give them a welcome I didn’t receive.”
    While Maguire’s catalog of service is well documented, his wife tackled some exciting endeavors that were not as well known, including serving as a role player with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Academy and a surveillance role player contractor for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). One of the benefits of the position was reviewing the FBI handbook, which fashioned a keen ability to read body language. Susan’s training, combined with Maguire’s “uncanny ability to assess people by listening to them” helps the pair, to this day, as they can easily measure a situation and gauge individuals they meet. That’s one of the many ways they “just work well together.” Susan is also a breast cancer survivor and a U.S. Master’s World swimming champion.
    Despite not being able to see, retired Army Cpt. Steve Maguire has completed two books, the first authored with assistance from Susan. Maguire would write the chapters in longhand, then Susan would read and record his text onto cassette tape, followed by a second (or third) review and revision from Maguire, before Susan drafted the final version on a manual typewriter. Maguire recently revised his first manuscript, this time using a talking computer. Maguire is not only a published author, he’s an avid lifelong reader, with Susan gushing proudly, “He’s read several thousand books on The Library of Congress’s Talking Book Program.”
    Susan enjoys singing the praises of her husband – even 50 years later. “He (is) smart and congenial - I’ve never felt more beautiful. The thrill is not gone,” she effuses. “When I go somewhere, I can’t wait until I get home (to see him).” She also calls her husband “an action man. Others might hesitate to make a decision, but (Steve) can evaluate what’s happening, figure out what needs to be done, and move to do it, usually before other people make a move.” He’s also not one to avoid a challenge. Susan explains, “When we ride our bicycle (built for two), he’s always saying, ‘Go faster.’ He’ll push the limit every time, in every way.”
    Although others might find the blindness restrictive, for Maguire, it’s just another distinctive characteristic. In fact, Susan declares, “I’ve never really seen him depressed.” To that, Maguire simply offers, “Don’t become a professional victim.” He furthers, “People will help you along the way.” Relying on his training as a Ranger is one key to Maguire’s attitude. Being a Ranger “got me into this. And it’s the only thing that is going to get me out,” a declaration he made to his mother while still recovering from his combat wounds.
    After living in 5 states, 2 foreign countries, and working for the Department of the Army in 3 separate decades, Maguire and his bride recently settled into a sprawling ranch in Wyoming. They spend time caring for 17 animals and enjoy “legions of pronghorn, mountain lions, moose, mule deer, bear, and elk,” and renovating a log cabin they purchased on an adjoining property. “We’re going to turn it into a castle…open it up to active duty Airborne Rangers and their families,” Susan explains excitedly. The castle theme will run throughout the home “with toilet paper holders shaped like knights. And no TV – only karaoke.”
    In the epilogue to the most current revision of his book, Maguire credits his experience at WRAMC with producing the “woman with whom I could and would spend the rest of my life. From early on, I’d felt that Susan, with all that she was, would make a life of blindness worthwhile. But that was a huge underestimation.” Maguire goes on to say the love he shares with Susan makes “his disabilities shrink into irrelevance.” The 50-year love story, which began at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, continues to this day.
    On Sweetest Day, they’re sharing their love story as one more way to give back and encourage our nation’s warriors that they can still find their happily ever after – or better yet, they can create it!

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 10.17.2020
    Date Posted: 10.17.2020 12:45
    Story ID: 381153
    Location: BETHESDA, MD, US 

    Podcast Hits: 0

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