A Parris Island Marine set to graduate Friday got a different kind of celebration than the ceremony he expected.
Pvt. Micah Wooten, 17, of Newberry, SC, woke up that morning excited for what was supposed to be his graduation day after 13 weeks of intense training.
Instead of heading to the ceremony, he got a ride in an ambulance to Beaufort Memorial Hospital for surgery.
His mother, Missy Wooten, was headed to the ceremony when she got the call.
“We were in Port Royal on our way to his graduation when (her son’s drill instructor) called,” Missy Wooten said. “So we swung around and beat him to the hospital.”
Wooten said her son’s surgery was for a mild problem, but that it needed attention.
“He had been at Parris Island for 13 weeks and just had a little issue that he was trying to ignore,” she said. “He was trying to wait until he got home.”
Hospital staff got Pvt. Wooten to surgery quickly, Wooten said. When a doctor came to see her in the waiting room, he said they were moving her son from surgery to post op.
“We thought we were just going back like standard procedure to see him,” Wooten said. “Then a nurse told us ‘We really want this to be special for him. Everyone deserves recognition for something like this that you work so hard for.’”
Staff then positioned Pvt. Wooten’s parents in the hallway and wheeled him out to the tune of The Marines’ Hymn and applause.
“He was still a little groggy,” Wooten said of her son. “But he was awake, alert and smiling.”
Staff at the hospital also bought a card and signed it for Pvt. Wooten along with a small stone cross for him to carry in his pocket, according to Laurie Harvey, assistant director of Beaufort Memorial’s Surgical Pavilion.
“We all wrote words of encouragement and thanked him for what he was doing,” Harvey said Saturday. “ ... That’s my staff, and they are absolutely amazing.”
Karen Carroll, the hospital’s chief nursing officer, said she didn’t learn of what happened until Wooten posted the video on Facebook. The video had over 4,000 likes and had been shared nearly 1,500 times as of Saturday afternoon.
“That’s just how good our OR staff is,” Carroll said Saturday morning. “They never said anything about it to our administration. It’s a real tearjerker.”
Carroll said it is common for staff to celebrate the good things in life when medical emergencies get in the way.
“They are very good at recognizing what the impact of someone’s life event is,” Carroll said. “They recognize how disruptive it can be when life is interrupted.”
Harvey, whose son graduated from Fort Benning in Georgia, said she and her staff felt compelled to celebrate the Marine for him and his family.
“Beaufort Memorial is a special place,” she said. “That staff that works in that OR is amazing. They are the most compassionate group of individuals that you could ever work with.”
For the Wooten family, the gesture turned the day around.
“As a mom who has been away from her son for 13 very long weeks, awaiting this day to be reunited, only to have this day take a complete turn, these staff members absolutely made it all better!” Wooten wrote in her Facebook post. “Shouting a huge ‘thank you’ from the rooftops! This mama’s heart is so full right now.”