Brian and Mel Birdwell and Gary and Carrie Gobble
Featured on Woman to Woman on February 13, 2010.
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Brian Birdwell and his wife, Mel, are both survivors of the terrorists' attacks on September 11, 2001. After hijacked American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, Birdwell was thrown to the ground and engulfed in flames. Of the burns that consumed 60 percent of his body, nearly half were third degree. While he was fighting for his life and undergoing 30-plus surgeries, intensive skin grafts, and unbearably painful medical care, Mel was fighting to maintain the couple's faith and their family. They believe Brian was spared for the purpose of telling others about the Gospel, and they delight in sharing God's love and sovereignty with others.
Brian is a native of Fort Worth, Texas, and a 1984 graduate of Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. Graduating as the Distinguished Military Student through the Army ROTC, he continued his service in the United States Army at Ft. Sill, Okla. After subsequently serving in South Korea for 18 months, Birdwell returned to the States and met his future wife, Mel.
Birdwell was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received on September 11, 2001. After serving his country for 20 years he retired, and together with Mel they founded Face the Fire Ministries, Inc. The ministry was established to assist burn survivors and wounded servicemen and women and their families.
The Birdwells have one son, Matt, and a golden retriever, Hayley. They reside in Granbury, Texas.
Gary Gobble was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was 14 months old. After being sick for an extended period of time, his grandmother insisted he consult a different doctor to gain additional perspective. This decision might very well have saved Gobble's life. From 1988-1992, he attended the University of Missouri-Columbia and graduated in 1992 with a B.S. in accounting. While Gobble's first academic choice in college was art and drawing, he knew he was going to have to take care of himself. He also knew that with cystic fibrosis being a starving artist wasn't going to work out. In 1993 Gobble passed his CPA exams and to this day works as a public accountant. However, in 2002 Gobble had to take a leave-of-absence from work due to the worsening of his cystic fibrosis. It had so weakened his body that merely getting out of bed was a chore. In April of 2002, Gobble was contacted that donor lungs were waiting for him, and he was successfully transplanted on April 29, 2002. His recovery was both rapid and smooth and for this he is thankful daily. In November of 2005, Gobble married a fellow transplant recipient -- Carrie. Together they share life, love, and God's daily blessings in their lives.
Carrie Gobble was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was three months old. While the diagnosis was frightening, she lived a normal, healthy life until age 17. Participating in sports kept her busy, but her real passion was arts and crafts, especially making things as presents to give to those she loved. Gobble attended Missouri State University in Springfield from 1995 to 1999, graduating from her hospital bed at St. John's Hospital in St. Louis in December 1999 with a B.S. in accounting. After working in the public accounting field for almost three years, Gobble had to quit due to decreasing lung function and increasing lung infections. In March 2004 Gobble was evaluated and listed for a bi-lateral lung transplant. It was also at this time she met her lung transplant mentor and future husband Gary. Bonding over life experiences and what it was like to grow up with cystic fibrosis brought the two of them together as friends. In September 2004 Gobble was activated on the transplant list and was experiencing respiratory failure, which required a machine to help keep her breathing at night. The call that a donor's lungs were available came in early November while Gary and Carrie were watching a movie, talking about transplants, and contemplating how desperately she needed one. One November 7, 2004, Gobble received her new lungs, the 769th transplant for Barnes Hospital of St. Louis. On November 19th, she and Gary began dating, and one year later they were married. This year they're celebrating four years together with seven years of life after Gary's transplant, and five years of life after Carrie's transplant.
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