Marine makes heartbreaking decision
Major deploys to Middle East; his 6-month-old baby gets a new heart
By Jeordan Legon
(CNN) -- With his newborn son in need of a life-saving heart transplant, Maj. Hal Sellers faced a seemingly impossible decision.
Take a desk job with the Marines in Twentynine Palms so he could be with his ailing baby or be deployed to the Middle East with his unit.
Sellers, a 13-year veteran of the Marines who is his unit's second in command, chose to serve overseas.
"It was not an easy decision to make, but I felt it was the right decision to make," said the 37-year-old Sellers during a recent television interview from Kuwait. "I joined the Marine Corps. voluntarily and not just for those times when it's easy."
Baby Dillon, who was born with a heart that was unable to pump blood, got a transplanted organ on March 12. Doctors say he's recovering well. So well, the ruddy infant was sent home in the arms of mom, Betsy, on April 17.
Betsy Sellers said it was difficult not having her husband by her side as 6-month-old Dillon struggled near death for months and finally got his donor heart just days before the war began. But she said her husband worried that bringing in a new leader for his unit so close to battle would not be good for the troops.
"I would have liked to have had him here and have had his support," she said. "But at the same time, I'm proud of his decision and what he is doing."
Betsy kept her husband up to date of their son's progress via intermittent telephone calls, even as his battalion of 700 Marines known as the Wolf Pack was among the first to move from Kuwait into Iraq.
One of Maj. Sellers' calls came just after the baby's four-hour operation at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California.
"He was concerned until he got word that surgery was all completed," Betsy Sellers said. "But he was very much relieved."
There is no word yet on when dad will be able to leave the battle to establish a new Iraq to see his son, who continues to fight for his health. But his wife hopes to have him home soon.
Until then, she continues to whisper her husband's heartfelt message to their son: "Daddy loves you."
Note: In every war there are acts of extraordinary courage where an individual, military or civilian, goes beyond what is expected to avert conflict, save lives or otherwise achieve an extraordinary mission. This special section highlights the acts of a few individuals who -- through feats of courage, nobility of purpose or life-risking situations -- have become "Heroes of War."