CHICAGO -- As Marine Sergeant Joshua Horton lay in a hospital bed across the ocean recovering from wounds he suffered in Iraq, his wife was in a maternity ward back home, making him a father five times more.
Horton knew his wife was expecting quintuplets, but decided it was his duty to go to Iraq last month with the Marines he helped train -- even if it meant leaving his wife and two children behind.
''He was taking them into combat for the first time. He wanted to get them there safely and return," said Dean Fisher, the bishop of Horton's church in Oswego.
Yesterday, a day after his wife Taunacy gave birth to three girls and two boys, Horton was back in the United States, but not with his family. He was transported from a hospital in Germany to National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.
A Marine spokesman said Horton, 28, is expected to recover, but was so heavily sedated that he probably was not yet aware he is a father again.
At Edward Hospital in Naperville, meanwhile, the quintuplets -- each weighing less than 2 pounds -- were in critical but stable condition. They were born in the 26th week of pregnancy.
Friends and relatives said Horton chose to put his life and family on hold to serve his country.
''This guy is my hero," said Bill Powell, a lieutenant with the Aurora Police Department, where Horton is an officer.
On Thursday, Horton was in Babil Province, south of Baghdad, when he was hit with either shrapnel or bullets in his torso and right leg. The military told his family someone tossed a grenade near him when he was on a house-to-house search with a handful of Marines, Watts said.
He is expected to recover and be transferred to Illinois.