31 December 2010

Auld Lang Syne

To friends and loved ones who can't be with us; and to those who are no longer with us.

You are always in our hearts.

Auld Lang Syne (to days gone by)... farewell 2010.

30 December 2010

Blanket of Hope x 90!

Carole Kirkwood of the Sunshine Club in Wilmington, CA sent along these photos and information about one of their latest creations:

I have finally finished the "scrap" quilt. It took 714 squares - 357 being the corners of blankets made for the soldiers. It took 90 blankets to get the scraps needed. The back side is denim with ragged edges (357 denim squares). The quilt will be raffled by the Sunshine Club to earn money for yardage.

What a terrific idea!

The Sunshine Club and other friends of Linda Ferrara have lovingly made and sent hundreds of blankets for our Wounded Warriors recovering at Landstuhl hospital.

We thank them for their ongoing dedication and support of those who have sacrificed so much for all of us. We love you, ladies!

29 December 2010

Marine injured in Afghanistan gets Purple Heart for Christmas

Gen. James F. Amos, 35th commandant of the Marine Corps, pins Cpl. Kevin B. Walker of Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, with the Purple Heart medal during an award ceremony in Musa Qal'eh, Dec. 25. Walker was awarded the Purple Heart after receiving shrapnel and a concussion from an improvised explosive device blast while on patrol. Photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua Hines.

Video Story: Christmas with the 101st Airborne in Afghanistan

In a follow up to Soldiers' Angels & BAE Help Military Families Send Care Packages (with raw video), FOX News reports on the arrival of the packages in Afghanistan. (Tissue alert!)

25 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

The Christmas Tree at Landstuhl Hospital Fisher House. Photo: Soldiers' Angels.

And the angel said unto them,
Fear not: for, behold,
I bring you good tidings of great joy,
which shall be to all people.

For unto you
is born this day in the city
of David a Savior,
which is Christ the Lord.

Thank you and Merry Christmas to all of our generous supporters. May you find joy this holiday season knowing you have uplifted our Wounded Warriors through the priceless gift of love.

24 December 2010

For God so Loved the World

[This is an annual post.]

It was late evening when I walked by and looked into the room.

Both legs gone, way up. The rest covered with bandages and surgical draping, even his face. What was left of his arms was on boards out to both sides.

My body felt like lead. So heavy I was afraid the floor might give way beneath me. And I thought, this must be like the pain - and the love - Mary felt watching her son die for us.

Then, a voice in my head, saying over and over, “For God so loved the world, for God so loved the world... ”

I asked his nurse if I could gown up and go in.

It was Christmas Eve.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

23 December 2010

"Don't feel sorry for me."

"My feet hurt", printed on the t-shirt worn by double amputee Sgt. Joey Jones as he exercises in his hometown of Dalton, GA.

"When I went there it was so another Marine could come home to his family. I want respect, not for myself, but something bigger than me, and that's love for one another."

- Marine Sgt. Joey Jones

Another great interview with Sgt. Joey Jones, home for the holidays after months of surgery and rehabilitation. (You'll remember Sgt. Jones from this CBS News story posted last week.)

17 December 2010

Silent Night

Part of Landstuhl hospital as seen from the Fisher House. Photo: Soldiers' Angels.

16 December 2010

"We're the ones paying the price, and we're telling you it's worthwhile."

Meet some of your Marines wounded in Afghanistan, interviewed by
CBS News' David Martin at Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

14 December 2010

The Hospital on the Hill

Each year during the Christmas season a cross shines brightly on the hill above the town of Landstuhl from the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center site. Photo: Soldiers' Angels.

Montana Soldier "glad" he stepped on IED

Brig. Gen. Joseph Caravalho Jr., left, commanding general of Brooke Army Medical Center and the Southern Regional Medical Command, presents Sgt. J.D. Williams with the Purple Heart medal and certificate Nov. 6 at the medical center at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

"I'm just glad I stepped on that IED. Otherwise, it would have been one of my buddies."

- Army Sgt. J.D. Williams, triple amputee.

Harrison High graduate receives Purple Heart
By GEORGE PLAVEN Montana Standard The Billings Gazette

BUTTE — U.S. Army Sgt. J.D. Williams never really wanted a Purple Heart. Nobody does, he said.

The 23-year-old Harrison High School graduate is missing his right arm and both legs, amputated after he stepped on an improvised explosive device in October in Afghanistan.

Williams received the decoration Nov. 6 from his hospital bed at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. About 12 friends and family attended the ceremony, held the same days as his daughter's first birthday. The Purple Heart is awarded to any military personnel wounded or killed in an action against the enemy.

His wounds now closed and skin grafts removed, Williams told The Montana Standard in a telephone interview that it felt good to be honored, but that he hopes not to see any of his fellow soldiers have to endure the same pain.

"I'm just glad I stepped on that IED," Williams said. "Otherwise, it would have been one of my buddies."

An infantryman with HHC 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry, Williams, who grew up in Anaconda, spent more than five months fighting the Taliban and pushing toward an end to the war.

On Oct. 9, at 8:30 a.m., Williams took one wrong step. The blast sent him 20 feet in the air, he said, and left a 6-foot crater in the ground.

When the smoke from the explosion cleared and Williams could finally see again, he rolled over and tried to assess his injuries. He remained conscious the entire time.

Taking long, deep breaths, Williams lay on his back and stared into the sky. He thought about his wife, Ashlee, and almost 1-year-old daughter Kaelyn back home.

"I always thought I was unstoppable," Williams said.

It took 19 minutes to load Williams onto a helicopter and out of danger. Doctors in Germany performed the necessary amputations and sent him back to the United States on Oct. 15.

Williams calls himself a lucky man.

"I really think God has a purpose for me on this planet," he said. "I will find it, whatever it is."

The cards, letters and support keep Williams motivated, his mother said.

"They keep him positive and remind him he is still a hero," she said. "If he did not have the support he has, the excruciating pain might have brought him down."

Donations, cards and letters to Sgt. J.D. Williams and family may be sent to:

Powless Guest House
No. 330, c/o Ashlee Williams
3298 George C. Beach Road
Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234

The full article can be read here.

13 December 2010

Christmas Bears To Go

A small Army of Christmas bears ready for distribution to patients leaving Germany for the US over the next week. This way our guys will have a little gift for very young children who would be too young to understand why Daddy doesn't have a Christmas present for them... Photo: Soldiers' Angels.

12 December 2010

Wounded medic greets fellow Soldier who saved him in Afghanistan at unit's homecoming

Sgt. Ed Matayka, right, shakes hands with Spc. David Schwerer, left, who saved Matayka's life after an explosive device detonated in Afghanistan. The two reunited for the first time since the incident as 160 Vermont National guardsmen returned home finishing their tour of duty in Afghanistan, Saturday, Dec. 11, 2010, in South Burlington, Vt. Photo: AP, Alden Pellett.

"This was one of the first things he requested coming out of unconsciousness, to greet the man who saved his life," said Laurie Ingalls, his mother-in- law. "He wanted to greet him so badly."

In a follow up to an earlier story, Sgt. Ed Matayka got his wish at the homecoming of his fellow Vermont National Guard Soldiers on Saturday.

Sgt. Matayka was injured by a roadside bomb back in July. He lost both legs, fractured his back and suffered a stroke that rendered the left side of his body paralyzed.

08 December 2010

Traveling home with America's Wounded Warriors

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

NBC Nightly News report "Traveling Home with America's Wounded Warriors" featuring interviews with patients and one of Landstuhl's long-time ICU nurses, Dee Dee Price.

06 December 2010

New policy helps protects troops from repeated exposure to blasts

Although it's hard for guys to be taken out of combat (for them and for their units), the long-term risk of brain damage is now taking priority due to a new, unprecedented policy.

Military doctors are diagnosing hundreds of concussions among combat troops because of an unprecedented order requiring them to leave the battlefield for 24 hours after being exposed to a blast.

Doctors say the order helps prevent permanent brain damage that can result if a servicemember has a second concussion before the first one heals.

"For the last eight years prior to the implementation of these protocols, we weren't doing things the right way," said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff.


Roadside bombs are the most common source of injuries to U.S. troops. Troops in the past tended to shake off blast effects and continue fighting, according to Army field studies.

To treat symptoms of concussions, the military has set up five "rest centers" here [in Afghanistan] where troops can recover, says Army Lt. Col. Kristofer Radcliffe, a neurologist supervising the effort. Scientists warn, however, that it is unclear whether the brain has healed even if symptoms go away.

Read the full article here.

I've spoken with many patients medically evacuated to Germany for further testing as a result of this and prior, smiliar policies. They are almost universally disappointed to have been taken out of the fight, but I hope I've been able to convince at least some of them that the rest of their lives is more important than the rest of their deployments.

House groundbreaking ceremony for Wounded Warrior Marine Cpl. Zach Briseno

On Monday, November 22nd, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for Corporal Zach Briseno, USMC (Ret.) to celebrate a new beginning. Helping a Hero has partnered with Standard Pacific Homes and the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund to provide Zach with a new wheelchair-accessable home near Fort Worth, TX.

From the Helping a Hero press release:

Zach grew up in Fort Worth and played baseball, basketball and football. Both of Zach’s grandfathers served in the Marine Corps and Zach knew he wanted to be a Marine when he was only 9 years old. In 2005, Zach joined the Marines and did his first tour in Iraq in 2006. His father died one week before his second deployment in 2007.

On November 29, 2007, Zach and his convoy were hit by an IED and an anti tank mine exploded under his Humvee. Both of Zach’s legs were blown off below the knee and he also broke his arm and has a plate in his wrist. For his service in Iraq, Cpl Briseno was awarded the Purple Heart for his sacrifice for our freedom and numerous other medals and awards.

Now he is faced with the daily challenges that result from the loss of both feet. Unfortunately he isn’t able to wear his prosthetics 24 hrs a day. Thus, he has to spend time at home in a wheelchair so he can get around and not overuse his prosthetic legs. He is a leader and is committed to giving back and helping other wounded heroes as they embark on their road to recovery.

“All of us at Standard Pacific Homes are proud to be a part of this project with the Helping a Hero organization. We want to make sure that every detail in his home will make Zach’s life easier. It is an honor and a privilege for us to build this new home for Zach and his son, Eli” Chris Matzke, President, Standard Pacific Homes, Dallas

This 4 bedroom, 3 bath home will feature wider doors, a roll in shower, a roll under sink, flush thresholds, lower counters, wheelchair accessible appliances, and many other safety features that will enable Zach to have a firm foundation as he rebuilds his life. He is a single Dad with a 5 year old son, Eli. Zach dreams of being married one day and perhaps having more children.

“Corporal Zach Briseno is a true American hero. He has battled back from a near fatal injury and has endured so much on his road to recovery. We count it an honor to help this young hero begin a new life in a brand new home where his ability to live independently will be maximized.” Meredith Iler, National Chairman, HelpingaHero.org.

“We are very proud to partner with HelpingaHero.org on Corporal Briseno’s home. Watching Zach throughout his recovery and seeing him now is an inspiration to everyone who knows him. He has that can do attitude and doesn’t let anything deter him from forging ahead.” Karen Guenther, Founder, Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund.

If Zach's name sounds familiar, it's because you've "met" him here before:

- Meet one of your Marines, Cpl. Zachary Briseno
- OORAH, Zach!

Congratulations, Zach! We're so happy for you and can't wait to see your new home when it's completed!

05 December 2010

Ramstein-based C-130Js arrive in Israel with firefighting assistance

Government officials and members of the international press welcome the arrival of a C-130J Super Hercules at Ben Gurion International Airport, Israel, Dec. 4. The aircraft delivered rire retardant from Ramstein Air Base, Germany as part of a joint U.S. Air Forces and U.S. European Command effort to assist the Israeli government in fighting wild fires in their country. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Markus M. Maier)

"Wii-hab": Video games used in rehab for Wounded Warriors

Last month, the community of milbloggers raised $95,205 for Soldiers' Angels Project Valour-IT. While this project started out with the goal of providing laptops with voice-activated software to severely wounded troops, it has since expanded to include other technologies. Personal GPS systems help build self-confidence and independence by compensating for short-term memory loss and organizational challenges related to severe TBI and severe PTSD. Wii video game systems provided to medical facilities to assist with physical rehabilitation.

You might wonder how a video game would help with physical rehabilitation:

Using the game console's unique, motion-sensitive controller, Wii games require body movements similar to traditional therapy exercises. But patients become so engrossed mentally they are almost oblivious to the rigor, Osborn said.

"In the Wii system, because it's kind of a game format, it does create this kind of inner competitiveness. Even though you may be boxing or playing tennis against some figure on the screen, it's amazing how many of our patients want to beat their opponent," said Osborn of Southern Illinois Healthcare, which includes the hospital in Herrin. The hospital, about 100 miles southeast of St. Louis, bought a Wii system for rehab patients late last year.

"When people can refocus their attention from the tediousness of the physical task, oftentimes they do much better," Osborn said.
This kind of therapy seems ideal when working with wounded troops:
The Hines Veterans Affairs Hospital west of Chicago recently bought a Wii system for its spinal cord injury unit.

Pfc. Matthew Turpen, 22, paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident last year while stationed in Germany, plays Wii golf and bowling from his wheelchair at Hines. Turpen says the games help beat the monotony of rehab and seem to be doing his body good, too.

"A lot of guys don't have full finger function so it definitely helps being able to work on using your fingers more and figuring out different ways to use your hands" and arms, Turpen said.

At Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the therapy is well-suited to patients injured during combat in Iraq, who tend to be in the 19 to 25 age range — a group that's "very into" playing video games, said Lt. Col. Stephanie Daugherty, Walter Reed's chief of occupational therapy.

"They think it's for entertainment, but we know it's for therapy," she said.
While the big annual fundraiser by the milblogs may be over, the need for our wounded troops is always ongoing. If you can, please consider donating to Project Valour-IT.

04 December 2010

Return to the Korengal

An Afghan National Army soldier from 2nd Company, 2nd Infantry Battalion, traverses the mountainside along with soldiers assigned to Company B, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Bulldog, during a joint clearing operation Nov. 24 in the Pech River Valley in eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar Province. U.S. Army photo/Staff Sgt. Mark Burrel.

"I stood in the Korengal with 1,000 of my guys."

- Col. Drew Poppas, commander of the 1st BCT and Task Force Bastogne

They probably thought we'd left for good. But we've got unfinished business there.

Poppas sat down with The Leaf-Chronicle while home on mid-tour leave. He shared what his task force has done in the eight months since being deployed to an area that he calls the biggest front in the war against the Taliban, al-Qaida and Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters. It's the same area where Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta earned his Medal of Honor and the home of the Korengal Valley — once referred to as the "Valley of Death."

"This is the fight they wanted here," he said. "This is the infantry fight 101."

That fight sometimes brings the 1st BCT soldiers within 50 feet of their enemies, close enough to lob grenades and watch the fighters come at them before "destroying them in detail."

Poppas is aware that many of the headlines coming out of his area of operation have been negative. Six soldiers died in one operation two weeks ago, and another five were killed in a massive IED strike in June.

However, he said his task force of nine battalion-sized elements combined — a force more than twice the size of his own brigade — is making progress, both in security and on the governance and economic sides of the fight.

"I stood in the Korengal with 1,000 of my guys," Poppas said, describing a recent days-long mission to root out enemy fighters from the 6-mile by 1-mile valley once held by the Taliban and al-Qaida. He said the valley is now a safer place because of what his soldiers have done.

"We're taking away the mystiques of these valleys," he said.

The strategy Poppas used was a simple one. The Taliban like to fight from advantageous high ground, so knowing this, Poppas' soldiers took the high ground, came in on the floor of the valley and backfilled behind. The Taliban probably thought the Americans would be gone in a matter of days, but they weren't. The Americans stayed and waited for the Taliban to return, killing them on sight.

Poppas called it "the classic definition of defeat."

Since then, the local villagers have watched what the Americans' efforts to eradicate the Taliban, something the villagers could not have done on their own.

"(The Taliban) don't give anything back. They just take," Poppas said.

Now the villagers have formed an armed resistance against the once forceful and embedded Taliban fighters. Anti-Taliban sentiment is growing, too.

"The whole Pech River valley," Poppas said, referring to how far that sentiment has spread.

As that progress was made, the headlines in the U.S. were about six soldiers who died in the fighting. Poppas said they did not die in vain, though. Those men died "to change the dynamic of the entire (Kunar) province," he said.

Read the rest of Jake Lowary's interview with Col. Poppas in The Leaf-Chronicle.

Angels at Tennessee Senior Center make quilts for Wounded Warriors

Faye McGhee (far right, in green) and some of the 18 members of the Folk Art Class at The Campbell County Senior Citizen's Center in La Follette, TN. The group makes quilts for wounded troops recovering at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Courtesy photo.

Six sewing machines whirr in one area. In another, women tack together the almost-finished quilts. The 18 women of the Folk Art Class at The Campbell County Senior Citizen's Center in La Follette, TN have had to spread out to work as their numbers have grown.

When they are finished, the quilts will be sent to the non-profit military support group Soldiers' Angels in Germany for distribution to wounded troops at Landstuhl military hospital.

"We love our country. We love our troops and what they are doing", says member Faye McGhee. "It breaks my heart that they have to go away from their homes to keep the rest of us safe. As you know my husband and my son were military men. My son has finished 33 years. 9 years in the Marines, the rest in the Army National Guard. He is retiring as a Major. Some of the other ladies have family members that have served also."

The Campbell County Senior Citizen's Center is owned by its 300 members, who raise funds within the community and through grants.

The Folk Art Class began with a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission through Arts Builds Communities, which was used for training in the art of hand piecing and quilting on a quilt frame. The group is currently on its fourth grant which will provide funding to hire artists to teach American Indian bead work as well as tapestry scenery quilting, combining old traditions in with the new.

Since 2007, the Folk Art Class at the center, which makes the quilts, has grown from 8 to 18 members.

"We are devoted to helping our community", continues Faye. "Nursing homes, homeless people, abused children and others that we find who need our help. It is such an important part of the area, that I hope we can continue to do our part. The Lord has blessed me so very much, that I want to do my part to help where help is needed most... I can go on and on, when it comes to the center and the people."

On behalf of the Wounded Warriors at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Soldier's Angels would like to thank each and every one of them for their patriotism and their compassion:

Maudine Daugherty, Mary Horner, Wanda Hansen, Peggy Hensley, Pat Garner, Pat Lay, Charlotte Cabrera, Linda Bruce, Bernadine Johnson, Mildred Kimbell, Barbara Jones, Rosemary Lively, Sandy Brehm, Marie Wentland, Rose Reimer, Louise Powers, Sue Troy, Faye McGhee.

Thank you, ladies! We love you!

If you'd like to receive the guidelines for making and sending quilts or fleece blankets for our patients, please email me.

02 December 2010

Citizen Soldiers - A National Guard MEDEVAC unit talks about their experiences

Soldiers from Charlie Company of the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation, an Oregon National Guard MEDEVAC unit, talk about their experiences in the military.

30 November 2010

The strategy of modern aeromedical evacuations

If you haven't seen it yet, this is another in a series of excellent articles about aeromedical evacuations from the Washington Post. This one covers the strategy behind (and the logistics involved in) moving even the most critically Wounded Warriors from theater as quickly as possible.

In the civilian world, victims of car accidents and gunshots hope to get to a hospital that can save their life - and then stay there. The military strategy is pretty much the opposite - and is, paradoxically, part of the reason the care of soldiers wounded in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been so successful.

In both those theaters, the military has placed a few extremely sophisticated hospitals very close to the battlefield. Within a few hours of being wounded, casualties can reach neurosurgeons, maxillofacial surgeons, interventional radiologists, ophthalmologists and intensivists - specialists that previously were farther "up-range" and days away.

Advanced care so close to the fight is feasible only if casualties don't fill up the hospitals and prevent new ones from coming in. To keep that from happening, patients are moved within hours of being treated.

This report also follows the fate of one critically injured Warrior who didn't make it all the way home. Make sure to view the accompanying photo gallery.

25 November 2010

On Thanksgiving, Angels Thankful for Bloggers

On Thanksgiving, Angels Thankful for Bloggers

Online Fundraiser Means Technology for Wounded Troops

PASADENA, Calif., Nov. 24, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Thanksgiving Day, military support nonprofit Soldiers' Angels gives thanks for a coalition of bloggers who raised nearly $100,000 for severely wounded veterans in November. The funds support the organization's Project Valour-IT, which supplies voice-controlled laptops and other adaptive technology to aid the recovery and independence of wounded servicemembers.

Since its inception in 2005, the Valour-IT online fundraiser has become an annual event. The project began when active-duty military blogger (milblogger) Chuck Ziegenfuss was wounded but wanted to continue to blog despite severe hand injuries. Following recognition that the technology existed to do so and that many Americans wanted to help others in Chuck's situation, Project Valour-IT was born under the auspices of Soldiers' Angels.

Using the Internet to raise funds for the new project was a natural fit. Chuck's fellow milbloggers teamed up along military service branch lines for an online fundraising competition leading up to Veterans Day, relying on friendly rivalries between the branches to motivate their efforts. Bloggers of all types soon joined them, including prominent pundits and broadcasters. Over the last five years the annual fundraisers have resulted in nearly one million dollars for Valour-IT.

"The charitable landscape of the Internet is amazing," says Soldiers' Angels Executive Director Toby Nunn. "10 years ago we didn't have the technology to raise money through ventures like this, let alone have the technology that we're raising the money for. These adaptive technologies and the heroes that benefit from them continue to inspire those that blog and surf the Information Superhighway, making this fundraiser relevant, fitting and rewarding."

Nunn has high praise for the bloggers themselves. "This small, dedicated group of milbloggers who get the message out—driven by their steadfast belief in helping those like them and the profound Internet fellowship that binds them—achieve amazing feats. This recurring fundraiser is a prime example."

Over the years, Project Valour-IT has provided nearly 6,000 laptops for wounded troops, as well as GPS devices for those with memory loss due to injury, and Wii game systems that are used in physical therapy sessions.

Soldiers' Angels is an award-winning 501(c)(3) with hundreds of thousands of volunteers providing aid and comfort to members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and military families through a wide variety of hands-on projects and volunteerism. For more information, visit www.soldiersangels.org or call 615-676-0239.

SOURCE Soldiers' Angels

20 November 2010

Soldiers' Angels & BAE Help Military Families Send Care Packages

Soldiers' Angels & BAE Help Military Families Send Care Packages

Documentarian Chronicles Both Sides of Deployment Experience

FT. CAMPBELL, Ky., Nov. 20, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --For the second year in a row, Operation Patriot Care Package, spearheaded by documentarian Michael Slee, is connecting deployed soldiers and their families while chronicling deployment from both sides of military life -- the homefront and the frontlines. This time, Soldiers' Angels and defense contractor BAE Systems have joined the team to show military families and their soldiers how much support they have from their fellow Americans.

On Monday, volunteers and staff from Soldiers' Angels and BAE joined families of deployed soldiers from Ft. Campbell to stuff Holiday care packages and give the families an opportunity to spend time with each other as people going through the same challenges. This is the first step in a process of following the experiences of both the deployed soldiers and their families at home, which is a surprise for the unit itself and includes Slee's trip to Afghanistan this morning to film them.

"I come from a military family," says Slee. "I know what it's like when Dad's gone and Mom is 'Dad.'" Recognizing that unlike their deployed heroes, the families at home don't always have a mission to distract them from the pain and fear of deployment, Slee created Operation Patriot Care Package to "give the families a mission and bring them together with people who understand -- that's the purpose behind the effort. Not only do they fill packages, but via video they see the arrival and opening of the packages, and how much the gifts are appreciated."

The project's goal is already partially realized, according to military wife Jessica, who attended the packing event. "It's an amazing experience to know that we're able to contribute… It makes us feel good to think that they're going to have a smile on their faces over there," she says.

Slee spent three days with the families, documenting their homefront experiences and covering a family with a soldier on leave. Video from the families and the packing activities are distributed by PathFire and additional video will be available throughout Slee's trip, with the full documentary to come. Updates will be posted regularly at patriotcarepackage.com.

Soldiers' Angels is an award-winning 501(c)(3) with hundreds of thousands of volunteers providing aid and comfort to members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and military families through a wide variety of hands-on projects and volunteerism. For more information: www.soldiersangels.org or 615-676-0239.

SOURCE Soldiers' Angels

Here are some video clips of the event.

19 November 2010

A father's love

A father wipes a tear from his child's face during a Medevac mission in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province. The child was injured by an explosion. Peter Andrews, Reuters / November 12, 2010.

16 November 2010

Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta Medal of Honor Ceremony today

The first living soldier to receive the Medal of Honor since Vietnam tells CBS's Lara Logan in an emotional interview just what he did to earn the nation's highest combat honor and how the recognition makes him uncomfortable.

Make sure to watch Staff Sgt. Sal Giunta receive the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry today at 2pm ET in East Room of the White House. A live stream will be here.

"The Right Reason"

Have you ever had an experience where you are so overwhelmed, that you were at a loss for words?

Taco of the Sandgram writes about his experiences at the fifth annual “Tribute to the troops” get together in this must-read story, For “The Right Reason”: Taking care of our Wounded Troops.

15 November 2010

Marine Corporal Todd Nicely - A Wounded Warrior's Story

March 26, 2010. Cpl. Todd Nicely is leading a patrol in southern Afghanistan with 12 Marines of the 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines.

Lance Cpl. Felix Camarillo, 19, of Los Angeles was third in line, behind Nicely and the platoon's commander, Lt. Brian J. McGrath Jr., 27, of Glenside, Pa., who was along to interact with locals.

Camarillo saw Nicely engulfed in dust and debris. "Nice!" he yelled.

The explosion knocked down the whole patrol, Camarillo said.

McGrath tried to quickly sweep the area with a metal detector to make sure there were no other bombs. But there were so many fragments on the ground that he threw the detector aside and rushed to Nicely.

The blast had blown off Nicely's helmet and flak jacket.

He looked awful.

"I almost lost it," Camarillo said. "There were bones sticking out... His right leg was just completely gone. His left hand was gone."

Much of his right arm was also gone and his left leg was barely attached, other Marines remembered.

He also had a wound that looked like shrapnel had gone through the bottom of his jaw and come out his left cheek and an abdominal wound with part of his bowel protruding, his friends said.

Camarillo and Lance Cpl. Sean Harrigan, 19, of Methuen, Mass., who were trained to treat combat trauma, put tourniquets on what remained of Nicely's limbs to stop the bleeding.

A strapping corpsman, Jerrod Francis, 21, of Louisville, sprinted over from another squad and went to work on the other wounds. He was amazed that Nicely's vital signs were decent.

Nicely recalled: "I remember... thinking to myself... 'Just keep breathing so you can get back to your wife.' "

Michael E. Ruane of the Washington Post does a terrific job telling the story of the day Cpl. Todd Nicely got hurt, how his fellow Marines saved his life, and of his subsequent progress. One of the things I like best about it is that he captures not just Todd's spirit, but that of his wife Crystal. Because there's more than one Hero in this story.


Marine Corporal Todd Nicely becomes honorary firefighter
Marine Corporal Todd Nicely comes home
The Prince and the Marine
Marine Corporal Todd Nicely update
"They got me home"
One of our Marines could use your prayers

14 November 2010

Valour-IT - Thank you

Since 2004, Soldiers' Angels has been on site supporting wounded and ill service members aeromedically evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for evaluation and stabilization before being transferred for continued care at military medical facilities in the US (or, in some cases, returned to duty downrange).

During that time, tens of thousands of patients have transitioned through Landstuhl after a short stay of just a few days. Many arrive able to walk, but others arrive on life support and leave the same way. And sometimes, families are flown here to say goodbye to their Hero who subsequently makes his final journey home in a flag-draped transfer case.

We never know what happens to most of our patients after they leave Germany and cannot afford to dwell on it - because new ones immediately arrive to take their places. They, too, deserve the undivided attention of our caregivers.

Our comfort is found in the faith we have that our fellow Americans back home will care for them as we have here.

The annual Valour-IT online fundraiser began in 2005, taking the form of a "competition" between blogging teams representing the 4 service branches - Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. All donations go into one fund which is of course used for members of all services. Here are the unofficial results of the 2010 online fundraiser.

Team MARINE: $38,470
Team ARMY: $26,505
Team NAVY: $12,127
Team AIR FORCE: $9,224
Unassigned: $7,546

2010 (unofficial) TOTAL: $93,872

The Soldiers' Angels Germany blog was once again proud to be a member of Valour-IT Team MARINE, which raised the most funds due to the dedication and leadership of our Team leaders, Cassy Fiano and Carrie of Villainous Company, and the extraordinary support of the Marine Corps family.

On behalf of our Wounded Warriors, I would like to thank all of the Valour-IT bloggers and their readers for their patriotism and for their generous support of Project Valour-IT.

11 November 2010

Veterans Day at the Soldiers' Angels Support Center

Miss San Antonio helps award Valour-IT laptops to some of our Wounded Warriors.

100 Valour-IT laptops ready to be awarded.

Wounded Warrior receives Valour-IT laptop from a Veteran of another war.

Volunteers from Bank of America assemble care packages for deployed troops.

And here they are, ready to go!

These photos and many more at Soldiers' Angels co-founder Jeff Bader's Facebook page, who says, "Today I had the honor of being with Heroes and Angels. What a great day! I hope you enjoy the pictures. Special thanks to Amy Palmer, Bank Of America, Mission Serve, La Quinta and so many others. Huge Hooaaah and angel wing hug to San Antonio Triad! 100 Laptops to 100 wounded heroes! Happy Veterans Day All."

More about today's event here.

* * *

Today, Veterans Day, is the last day of the annual online Valour-IT fundraiser. As a someone who has met many of our Wounded Warriors, I would like to thank all of our donors and bloggers for their generous support.

If you haven't donated yet, there's still time.

Home of the Free because of the Brave

Today we honor all of our veterans, past and present, who have served in defense of our nation. To those who have suffered the wounds of battle, we can never repay the sacrifices you have made. God bless you all, and God bless America: Home of the Free because of the Brave.

Thanks to CJ for the video.

10 November 2010

Miracle Marine

Brandon Bailey does exercises with the help of his physical therapist Michelle Michels. Michels has been Bailey's therapist since the beginning. Photo: The Enquirer/Carrie Cochran.

When a Taliban bomb drops a six-ton Humvee in your lap and, 21 months and 21 operations later, you can run backward up a hill, you believe in miracles.

Gunnery Sgt. Brandon Bailey believes.

On Jan. 24, 2009, Bailey was riding in the last vehicle of a four-truck convoy in Afghanistan's Farah province when they hit the IED.

The explosion threw the Humvee 138 feet. Five of the six Marines inside were ejected. One remained.

"My vest got caught on the truck's frame," Bailey says.

The Humvee flipped and landed with the top gun turret atop Bailey's pelvis. His torso was bent, like an envelope's flap, with him facing the ground. And conscious.

After the Humvee came to rest on that cold January night, "four Marines lifted that thing off of me," he recalls. "No jack. Just four Marines. That's a miracle."

Read the rest of Brandon's extraordinary story here. It's great to see you doing so well, Brandon, and OOHRAH to the four Marines who lifted that thing off you!

Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home

Sgt. Thomas James Brennan of Randolph, Massachusetts, from the First Battalion Eighth Marines Alpha Company, smokes a cigarette in his bunk surrounded by photographs of his wife Melinda and their daughter Madison, 2, after a night of rain at the remote outpost of Kunjak in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, October 29, 2010. (REUTERS/Finbarr O'Reilly)

Happy birthday, Marines. And thank you.

Commandant and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps deliver 235th Birthday Message

Happy birthday, Marines!

09 November 2010

100 Laptops for 100 Wounded Troops on Veterans Day

100 Laptops for 100 Wounded Troops on Veterans Day

SAN ANTONIO, Texas, Nov. 9, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- On Veterans Day (November 11), Soldiers' Angels is honored to host a celebration of thanks for America's veterans at the Soldiers' Angels Support Center, the organization's warehouse and support complex in San Antonio across from Brooke Army Medical Center.

In recognition of America's wounded heroes and to give them a "hand up" as they adjust to life as a wounded veteran, Soldiers' Angels will hand out 100 new laptops to severely-wounded military personnel at the event. The laptop distribution is funded by the third TRIAD grant Soldiers' Angels has received for project Valour-IT, which provides technology to support the recovery and reintegration of wounded veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, including nearly 6,000 adaptive laptops in the last five and a half years.

Local members of the public are invited to the event, where they will be encouraged to pack care packages for deployed troops, fold small American flags, and write personal notes of gratitude that will be distributed to veterans and active duty personnel.

The sponsor for this event is Bank of America. Organizations partnering with Soldiers' Angels for this event are Operation Homefront, Mission Serve, Grainger, Best Buy, Herr Foods, eFusjon Energy Club, members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Miss San Antonio 2011 Dominique Ramirez, and local military and political leaders. Food will be served and attendees will have the opportunity to peruse the mementos and thank yous from the heroes Soldiers' Angels has supported.

Soldiers' Angels invites all San Antonio residents to this celebration of true American heroes, honoring those who have served and sacrificed in the defense of all Americans! For more information about this event, Soldiers' Angels, or how to donate to help our troops, contact Soldiers' Angels at mlopinto@soldiersangels.org

Soldiers' Angels is an award-winning 501(c)(3) with hundreds of thousands of volunteers providing aid and comfort to members of the U.S. Armed Forces, veterans and military families through a wide variety of hands-on projects and volunteerism. For more information, visit www.soldiersangels.org or call 615-676-0239.

About Operation Homefront: Operation Homefront provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors. A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 4,500 volunteers across 23 chapters and has met more than 267,000 needs since 2002. A four-star rated charity by watchdog Charity Navigator, nationally, $.95 of total revenue donated to Operation Homefront goes to programs. For more information about Operation Homefront, please visit OperationHomefront.net.

About TRIAD: Funding for the Soldiers' Angels Project Valor-IT project was provided in part by the Texas Resources for Iraq-Afghanistan Deployment (TRIAD) Fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation. For more than 40 years, the San Antonio Area Foundation, a publicly supported philanthropic institution, has been administering donors' funds and granting gifts from those funds to worthy charitable causes that significantly enhance the quality of life in the communities they serve.

SOURCE Soldiers' Angels

You may make a donation to Project Valour-IT during the annual online fundraiser leading up to Veterans Day here.

Doc on patrol

Navy corpsman Mitchell Angoglia, of Dyer, Indiana, with India company, 3rd Battalion 5th Marines, First Marine Division , kneels during a patrol, Friday, Nov. 5, 2010 in Sangin, Afghanistan. AP Photo.

Those who say that we're in a time when there are no Heroes, they just don't know where to look

Captain Matthew Charles Ferrara
14 October 1983 - 9 November 2007

On November 9, 2007, 1st Platoon, Chosen Company, 2/503, 173rd ABCT, was ambushed by an overwhelming enemy force as they returned to Combat Outpost Bella following a meeting with tribal elders in the nearby village of Aranas.

Five Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and one Marine from the Mountain Warfare Training Center were killed. Eight more paratroopers and 11 Afghan National Army soldiers were wounded. Despite the heavy casualties taken during the opening minutes of the ambush, with nearly every man either killed or wounded, the patrol was ultimately able to repel their attackers and call in support.

Ammunition was dropped to the survivors by the arriving Apache helicopters, and eight separate air crews subsequently conducted what was to become a combined 31-hour MEDEVAC and recovery mission involving multiple lifts.

Our love, thoughts, and prayers are with Matt's family and the families of his brothers-in-arms who gave their lives for each other, their loved ones, and their country on 9 November 2007. We will remember them always.

* * *

Im Memoriam:

1st Lt. Matthew C. Ferrara, 24, of Torrance, Calif.
SGT Jeffrey S. Mersman, 23, of Parker, Kansas
SPC Sean K.A. Langevin, 23, of Walnut Creek, California
SPC Lester G. Roque, 23, of Torrance, California
PFC Joseph M. Lancour, 21, of Swartz Creek, Michigan
all of Chosen Company, 2-503rd PIR, 173rd ABCT, and
Marine Sgt. Phillip A. Bocks, 28, of Troy, Michigan

* * *

With gratitude to the MEDEVAC crews for their professionalism, selfless service and dedication to duty during our Heroes' final hours and to the AH-64 crews not only for their protection, but whose gun cameras documented this mission.

Those who say that we're in a time when there are no heroes, they just don't know where to look.

- Ronald Reagan

08 November 2010

Musta been the flares

A flare flies over a shadow of a chase helicopter during a Medevac mission in southern Afghanistan's Helmand Province November 4, 2010. Reuters Photo.

Musta been the flares popped by the Project Valour-IT Team MARINE that allowed us to leave those other teams in the dust.

We're closing in on the second objective of $30,000 set just yesterday after plowing through our original $25,000 goal.

Thank you to all of our generous donors.

Onward, Marines!!

07 November 2010

Parents of the deployed are at war, too

"When a son is on the front lines, the most exquisite cuisine loses its flavor, movies are no longer exciting, conversations of pettiness can’t be stomached, and the company of others going through the same experience is the only solace."

Read the rest of this thoughtful essay by Cheryl Eager.

Time for a smoke break

Cpl. Andrew Rundle, of San Diego, California, with India company, 3rd Battalion 5th Marines, First Marine Division, lights a cigarette for himself and First Lt. Richard Spicer, of Houston, Texas, Friday, Nov. 5, 2010, in Sangin, Afghanistan. AP Photo.

The Project Valour-IT Team MARINE has just broken through its $25,000 fundraising goal. Thank you to all of our generous donors.

But we're not going to rest on our laurels. After we burn a couple, we're moving on to the next objective - $30,000! Oooh-rah, Marines!!

Fifth Annual "Blankets of Hope Marathon" generates 352 blankets in 8 hours

The 5th annual "Blankets of Hope Marathon", a unique community event created by Soldiers' Angels Lisa Dodson and Matt Dick, took place September 25th, 2010 at the Ascension Catholic Church in Bowie, MD.

Each year has been bigger than the last, and this year was no exception. Patriotic Americans of all ages showed up to make over 300 blankets for wounded service members recovering at Landstuhl hospital in Germany. "The first year they made 43 blankets and were so excited and proud of themselves," says Lisa Dodson. "This year it was 352 made in eight hours! Every year the event grows and grows."

The 150 volunteers in attendance, most of whom had participated in previous blanket-making marathons, drove up to 90 miles to participate. They were very enthusiastic and especially motivated by a story shared at the event. During a fundraising effort outside a local grocery store earlier in the year, a man pulled up his car to say, "I received one of those blankets earlier this year. Thank you, thank you." He then reached out the window to press something into an Angel’s hand and drove away. It was a $100 bill.

"I start getting questions within a month afterwards about when the next one will be,” says Lisa. "They get so excited! It really brings people together, and everyone leaves feeling so good about what they’ve done."

Preparations for each Marathon continue all year long, with Lisa and her husband Matt Dick rasising donations from friends and family who own businesses or have good relationships with businesses they use regularly. Companies, schools, a restaurant, individuals, local Lions Clubs and the local American Legion all pitched in with fundraising support that resulted in fabric for 180 blankets. In addition, each attendee of the event was asked to bring enough fleece to make at least one hand-tied blanket if possible.

Despite the current challenging economic situation, Lisa was able to raise more money than last year, with individual donations showing the greatest increase. Pico Textiles of California also stepped up, shipping hundreds of yards of fabric at no cost. Thanks to those donations the volunteers were able to make about 20 more blankets than last year, even though slightly fewer people participated.

Lisa would like to thank two fellow Angels who were particularly helpful in planning and preparations again this year: Maureen Barber and Valerie Potter - Lisa couldn't do it without you!

Here's some of your blankets that have already begun arriving in Germany.

Congratulations on another successful Marathon and THANK YOU all on behalf of the patients here at Landstuhl!

See more photos at the main SA website here, and photos of last year's event here.

Marines have the watch

U.S. Marines from the First Battalion Eighth Marines Alpha Company stand by a wall during a night patrol in the town of Nabuk in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province, October 31, 2010. Reuters Photo.

06 November 2010

Valour-IT: So much more than a laptop

A couple of years back, I received this note from the fiancee of one of the few Valour-IT recipients based in Germany.


I just want to tell you a quick story: Last Christmas (2 months after my fiance got of the hospital), we got a Christmas tree and decorated it.

We were missing the star to put on the top of the tree, so we used the little angel you sent us in a letter.

I just thought you should know that. And, that we have promised ourselves the angel will be used every Christmas on our tree :-)

How much is it worth for this couple to look at their Christmas tree each year and know that their fellow Americans love and appreciate them?


Valour-IT. Much, much more than a laptop.

Soldiers' Angels Germany is proud to be blogging once again this year for the Valour-IT Team MARINES. You may also donate in the name of one of the other service branches here. But all donations go to the same place - a fund providing laptop computers and other electronic devices to improve the lives of recovering wounded service members. If you've already contributed, thank you.

Landstuhl hospital: "The German front in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars"

In this video, Canadian Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Tiffin, an EOD Tech, recounts the events that led to his injury from Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.

The accompanying story is called Wounded Canadians find a piece of home at German hospital.

RAMSTEIN AIR FORCE BASE, GERMANY—Standing in the bitterly cold wind blowing across the airstrip, Master Cpl. Karen Dickie waits for the giant C-17 aircraft to open its jaws.

After a few abortive tries, the mouth of the massive U.S. air ambulance opens and a whoosh of cool German air hits the faces of soldiers, acclimatized to the desert heat, as they lie on their stretchers.

Dickie, a Canadian Forces medic, walks up the metal ramp and scans the stretchers laid out in front of her in search of Toronto Chief Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Tiffin. The naval diver was flown out of Kandahar eight hours earlier, after a bomb blew up in his hands.

Dickie is stationed at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, the casualty hub for NATO troops airlifted from combat. She is one of eight specially trained Canadian soldiers whose sole purpose is to move our wounded from the battleground to this German safe haven before being flown home for further care.

She finds Tiffin, conscious and alert but with blackened, injured hands, and introduces herself. She explains he’s been brought here to Landstuhl, a giant trauma hospital deep in the heart of the Black Forest.

Landstuhl is often referred to as the German front in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Plane after plane of critically injured, baby-faced soldiers breathing on portable ventilators arrive daily suffering from blast injuries, severe burns and missing limbs.

All day, seven days a week, massive C-17 cargo carriers, each able to move nearly 80 injured soldiers in seats and stacked on stretchers three deep, land at Ramstein and are bused 15 minutes down the road to Landstuhl.

Since 2004, the hospital has cared for 65,000 patients — soldiers, diplomats, journalists — from 45 coalition nations.

Read the rest of Tiffin's and Dickie's stories in this inspiring story from the Toronto Star. And, as always, we're proud to stand with you, Canada!

05 November 2010

2010 Valour-IT Fundraiser Update - Thank you!

Just eight days into the 2010 Valour-IT Blogging Fundraising Competition, almost $50,000 has been raised towards our goal of $60,000. Thank you to everyone who's contributed!

Project Valour-IT helps provide voice-controlled/adaptive laptop computers and other technology to support wounded warriors during their recovery.

The experience of Major Chuck Ziegenfuss, a partner of Project Valour-IT who suffered serious hand injuries while serving in Iraq, led to the creation of this program that has used voice-controlled laptops and other technology to support the recovery of approximately 5000 of wounded troops since 2005.

Technology supplied includes:

- Voice-controlled and other adaptive Laptops allow wounded service members to maintain connections with the rest of the world during recovery.
- Wii Video Game Systems which are used as part of physical therapy program, and
- Personal GPS, to build self-confidence and independence by compensating for short-term memory loss and organizational challenges related to severe TBI and severe PTSD.

As always, the "competition" is between blogging teams representing the 4 service branches - Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines - to raise funds for Valour-IT. All donations go into one fund and will of course be used for members of all services.

Soldiers' Angels Germany is proud once again to be a member of the Team MARINES Valour-IT bloggers. You may also donate in the name of one of the other service branches here.

January 18th, 2006

Dear Mrs. Smith,

It was brought to my attention that your organization, Soldier's Angels, did something very special for the Marines of our Injured Support Battalion. I want to take this time and thank you so much for your contribution to make special memories for those who sacrifice so much.

Your contribution of laptops is quite above and beyond. I am grateful that you have taken time to honor our injured heroes.

I remain...

Thank you for your support of those who have sacrificed so much for all of us.

04 November 2010

Operation Damage Control

Doctors David Zonies (standing, center) and Dr. Jeff Marchessault and surgical tech Ashley Knezevich (R) take a moment for sustenance at 1:00 a.m. between surgeries at Role 3 Craig Joint-Theatre Hospital at Bagram Airfield in Bagram, Afghanistan on October 23, 2010. After doing a surge of amputee patients they will move on to less critical surgeries waiting for them. Its a typical day and night for medical staff at Role 3 hospitals in Afghanistan before patients are moved on to Germany the next day. Photo: Linda Davidson / The Washington Post.

The surgeons here have a fierce dedication to saving every life. Only in mass casualty events must some patients be put aside and treated "expectantly," the euphemism for the assumption they will die. Even getting someone alive to Landstuhl, where their family can see them before they die, counts as a victory.

"We try not to withdraw care here in theater," Eastridge said.

But every once in a while it happens. It's usually someone with brain injuries so severe they're likely to die during transport. They're allowed to die here, with troops at the bedside. "That just affords them that last little bit of dignity," he said.

He stopped, and his eyes filled with tears.

Reporters of the Washington Post recently spent time with a DUSTOFF crew and with the staff of Role 3 Craig Joint-Theatre Hospital at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

In this segment, the reporters cover the weekly teleconference between doctors, nurses and medics at military hospitals in Afghanistan, Germany, and the US.

The week, the assembled group of over 80 people review the cases of the 13 critical patients treated the prior week. Nine of the patients will have permanent disabilities: Two lost one leg; two lost a leg and a foot; two lost both legs; two lost both legs and a hand; and one was paralyzed from the waist down.

The conference is run by Col. Brian Eastridge, a 47-year-old trauma surgeon with 23 years in the Army. He grew up in Damascus, Md., graduated from Virginia Tech and the University of Maryland School of Medicine. He now heads the Joint Theater Trauma System, which organizes trauma care in both wars.

Over five deployments, Eastridge has seen the entire arc of worsening wounds and increasing survival that has marked trauma care during the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Dressed in brown camouflage battle dress, he sits halfway around a large U made of wooden tables. Around him on the walls are idealized scenes of Afghan life painted by a local artist - a girl leading a caravan of camels, children being taught arithmetic at the base of a tree, kids flying kites.

Eastridge runs the conference with somber efficiency, offers comments sparingly and addresses his listeners mostly by location-"Kandahar," "Landstuhl," "Walter Reed."

The rapid-fire reports are dense with medical jargon and anatomical description. It's a narration of one disaster after another, and of how things were kept from getting worse, and made better, by skill, speed and attention. It's the aural equivalent of watching a dozen high-wire acts in which some people are rescued mid-fall.

Here's just one.

"Dismounted IED" injury is jargon for wounds caused by a bomb or mine that are suffered outside a vehicle. The soldier had tourniquets placed for partial amputation of both legs. One liter of a special IV fluid was given in the helicopter, and the patient arrived at the Kandahar hospital in and out of consciousness and in shock.

In the operating room, surgeons temporarily tied off the arteries going to the legs and repaired a tear in a major vein. There was massive damage to the area between the legs. One leg was amputated at the knee. In a second operation the next day his wounds were rewashed and a finger, broken in the explosion, was fixed with external hardware.

That same day the soldier was evacuated to Bagram, where his wounds were washed out and the pelvic region was re-explored. A "foreign body"- the speaker didn't say whether it was dirt, metal or something else - not seen in the first operation was removed. He suffered a collapsed lung after surgery, which was fixed.

He stayed there two days before flying by critical care air transport to Landstuhl.

Seven days after suffering his wounds the soldier arrived at a hospital in the United States. He had another collapsed lung, and pneumonia. His right foot, initially thought to be salvageable, wasn't healing and the surgeons planned to amputate it at the ankle. He had further surgery to his abdomen and numerous operations to start repairing the missing floor of his pelvis.

"This was one of the biggest pelvic injuries I've ever seen," said one of the surgeons in the United States. Eastridge later said he hears that a lot from surgeons in the United States who haven't been deployed yet.

This was not an uncommon case.

Make sure to view the accompanying photo gallery and see these dedicated professionals at work.