"Everything was on fire. The trucks. The bazaar. The grass. It looked surreal. It looked like a movie". That was the description given by a wounded soldier as he told it to the press. Last Sunday morning, 9 soldiers were killed in Afghanistan's Kunar province. There were 15 wounded. (Go to http://www.stripes.com to see the full story for the Sat., July 19th issue)
We were notified via email by the Military Relations office at the Church Offices in Salt Lake City late Monday evening that a wounded LDS soldier had just arrived at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. We were asked to check on him. We went to the hospital about 9:00 pm that night after leaving the IOC. We found Jacob and visited with him. His wounds were deep. The battle the day before had been devastating for his company. He and his buddies lost good friends. He had gone without a shower and sleep for many hours. He was anxious to call his buddy's wife back home to tell her that her husband didn't suffer when he died. His singular bullet wound was to his left hand, and several bones were shattered. We have seen Jacob several times this past week and every day he is getting better. Tomorrow he will meet with the hand surgeon to see what can be done. Following surgery he will be taking some leave to visit his family in the States. Then, if all goes well he will return to his unit in Vicenza, Italy. Since he is right-handed, he says he can still hold a gun. Jacob and his buddies were just 5 days away from finishing their 15 month deployment. Perhaps you heard on the national or local news about this. It seems so distant when you watch it on TV. It is entirely another thing to see the tears in a young soldiers eye's when he talks of his lost "brothers" and you see the weariness in his face and the slump in his walk and the bandages on his hand. When we first entered the hospital ward there was a young triple amputee wheeling his wheelchair down the hall. It is all so terribly sad. These are the times we live in. What can we do? We can pray for the wounded and the families of those who have lost loved ones. We can tell each and every service man and woman "Thank you for your service". These are the real super heroes of our time.
Sgt. Jacob Walker, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team