HORSHAM, Pa. (WTXF) - It’s been 20 years since former Marine and Army Sergeant Brian Finger walked the halls of his alma mater. In fact, the two time Purple Heart recipient almost never made it back.
“February 2010 we were in the valley doing a combat resupply mission. Just a normal day in Afghanistan,” says Finger.
“We’d taken some fire going in. The IED went off. When the front end of the vehicle came forward I didn’t stop moving, so I went full speed into a .50 caliber machine gun with my face,” Finger explains.
That was the moment that physically broke Brian’s smile. The bone that anchored his teeth to the rest of his skull was fractured.
“I also broke my spine. I broke my ribs. I tore my tendon in my knee,” Finger says.
Seven years later, many of those injuries have healed. But, Brian’s bright smile was gone. His teeth began falling out.
“It had been about six years since I’d bitten into anything, even like a hamburger. I had a hard time just saying words,” Finger says.
Brian and his wife Susan made the decision to have all of his teeth replaced. Thirty thousand dollars they didn’t have, spent on something they couldn’t afford to lose.
And then, a friend from his years at Horsham High stepped up.
Michael Philip O’Brien, now the founder of 11th Hour Theatre Company in Philadelphia.
As seniors, O’Brien and Finger played music together. Neither knew that experience would one day come full circle.
“We graduated twenty years ago. When they said they were in need and when I heard Brian’s story and what he’d gone through, those times in high school came flooding back and I was like hey maybe we can do something,” O’Brien explains.
Something turned into a full on rock concert. Held in the auditorium the two friends once jammed in as teenagers. Fittingly of course, on Veterans Day.
“We hope at the end of the day, we can help Brian and Sue pay off the medical bills that they have,” says O’Brien.
They’ve already given them one thing money can’t buy. But that love returns in spades.
“I can smile now,” says Finger.
Brian’s advice for other vets?
“To say ‘I need help, is there anybody who can help me out with this’ and there will be people,” Finger says.
The proceeds from 11th Hour’s Philly Rocks concert will go towards helping pay off Brian’s dental bills. The company will continue to accept donations online. Brian continues to recover, but says his newly restored smile has already transformed his life.
Anyone who is interested in making a donation can do so here.