MEIGS COUNTY, TN. (WRCB) -- Private First Class Brandon Kyle Pendergrass, was only a month into his first deployment when he was seriously injured. His unit was conducting a mounted operations mission Saturday, when their vehicle was hit by a bomb.
Pendergrass' family was beside themselves with worry Saturday. Initially they only knew he was injured. Terror turned to relief when the 21-year-old was able to call home from the German hospital bed where he is recovering.
Greg Sanders did his best to talk his cousin, Kyle, out of joining the Marine Corp. It was no use, the 21-year-old's mind was made up.
"His grandfather was in the service," Sanders says. "He wanted to follow in his footsteps."
Before Pendergrass deployed in June, he and Sanders did everything together. The cousins even served with the Meigs County Volunteer Fire Department.
"I took it pretty rough," Sanders says of when he learned his cousin was injured Saturday. "He's my best friend."
Saturday was a bad day for Sanders, and the rest of Pendergrass family. All they knew was Pendergrass and his unit were on a mission when their vehicle drove over a roadside bomb.
"There's nothing you can really do," Sanders says. "He's so far away, you can't run and check on him."
According to a Marine spokesperson, Pendergrass suffered a fractured back, ribs and wrist. He later told his family he remembers everything.
"He said he remembers his head hit the gun. It threw him back and knocked him out," Sanders says.
Everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief when Pendergrass finally called home.
"He could be hurting more than he's letting on," Sanders says. "He was cutting up, he doesn't want anyone to worry about him."
He is recovering at a hospital in Germany. His family expects him home soon, and his prognosis is very good.
"The doctors are hoping he'll make a full recovery," Sander says. "As soon as he heals, he wants to go back and finish his tour."
Through his mother, Pendergrass thanked friends and family Monday saying, "I thank God I'm alive. I want to thank my friends and family for all their prayers".
Greg Sanders is thankful his best friend is alive. He's looking forward to seeing him again very soon.
"I love you Kyle," Sanders says with a smile.
Pendergrass will likely have to have surgery on his wrist, and wear a back brace until he is fully recovered. His family doesn't know when he'll be transferred home.