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Sunday, March 13, 2005

For U.S. soldier injured by friendly fire, the wounds run deep

Seattle Post Intelligencer: For U.S. soldier injured by friendly fire, the wounds run deep

Excerpt - SNOHOMISH -- Though he was wounded in Iraq last fall, Sgt. 1st Class Rick White gets no Purple Heart.

White, 43, a 26-year career soldier and member of the Washington Army National Guard's 81st Brigade Combat Team, nearly lost his right leg Oct. 19. The shooter was not the enemy, but another U.S. soldier mishandling a machine gun.

It was friendly fire, a military euphemism that left White with a wound for which no medals are awarded but with a life-altering injury as crippling as any delivered by an enemy.

As the Seattle-based 181st Support Battalion, of which White was a part, returns home this week, White continues to face a long fight, having endured 10 surgeries so far in hopes of one day walking on his own.

White, however, is recuperating not at home with his wife and 3-year-old daughter, but with his sister, Teresa Alldredge, in Snohomish. His two-year marriage -- his second -- also became a casualty while he was away.

"If not for my sister, I don't know where I'd live, what I'd come home to," he said. "I have my good days and my down days. The down days are the ones when I can start crying at the drop of a hat."

The Army paid to furnish the 12-by-12-foot room in which he sleeps with a hospital bed, a physical therapy machine, a wheelchair and, in the bathroom, a boost for the toilet. A laptop computer is a main link to the outside world, its clock set to remind him to change his pain patch every three days. It's among the seven painkillers he takes. White's sister, a professional quilter, decorated the room with hand-hewn quilts donated by well-wishing Americans from around the country, photos of White's daughter and get-well notes from family, friends and strangers.

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Hard Comment: Why do we not see Bush Sr and Bill Clinton doing TV Commercials asking Americans to donate money to help out our injured soldiers?



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