Daily News Article
am SSG Richard W. Watson. I joined the Army in 1997 to bring some
direction and focus into my life. I wanted to serve my country.
I never worried about war or what I would do if faced with death
in the service of my country. I was wounded in an IED blast in
October 2004 during my first tour in Iraq and never had any regrets.
I began my second tour in the summer of 2006 as an infantry squad
leader. To me this was the greatest achievement of my career and
the greatest job I could ever hope for. I led a nine man squad
on countless missions and was blessed by having some of the finest
fighting men I have ever worked with by my side, without whom I
would not be alive today to tell my story. I was wounded again
in an IED blast in October 2006, and then again by a grenade blast
in March 2007, which to my dismay brought me home and left my squad
to carry on without me. I have no regrets other than I miss leading
my men, and being the family man that I used to be.
March 27, 2007 while on a patrol we were watching for insurgents and
suddenly there was a huge explosion off the side of the vehicle. We dismounted
and began treating the casualty and we waited for a stretcher. I had
put my guys along a wall watching the east across the street, covering
those of us working on the injured man. As I walked over to report the
actions to the LT, an explosion rocked my world and I opened my eyes
only to realize I was facedown on the pavement. I don’t remember
much after that but my platoon sergeant told me that I ran in under fire
and picked up one of our guys who was bleeding and out cold, grabbed
his drag handle not realizing that rounds were still exploding all around
me. I heard nothing, felt nothing. Suddenly someone was there helping
me carry the wounded soldier out of the alley. I rushed him to the vehicle
and got him inside. I stood up in my hatch, and felt my knees buckle,
I braced myself on the hatch, then everything went cross-eyed, and I
couldn’t stand up anymore and just slumped down into the seat.
we arrived on base I heard yelling and the blast of the air horns, as
the ramp came down I took a step off the ramp but couldn’t find
my balance, I took a knee, and then went all blurry. I remember being
covered in blood but to the shock of the doctors and my own none of it
was mine. I spent two days there with a major concussion. I also received
a double hernia in the course of the event. The headaches never went
away, the memory loss is a pain, but I kept telling myself “I am
alive”. After six weeks of light duty working only in an office
because I could not handle my normal job, in mid May they decided to
send me to Balad for a CAT scan. The doctors there felt that since this
was my ninth concussion and that I my symptoms were still persistent
that I needed to be sent home. I was flown out that night to Landsthul
to be seen by the neurology department there. From there I was then sent
to Brooks Army Medical Center for treatment for a traumatic brain injury,
before sending me back home to Fort Lewis.
My wife Tonya had to stop working to take care of me. I can no longer drive,
stand up for too long, or do most of the things I used to enjoy. I still suffer
from vertigo, blackouts, flash backs, nightmares and seizures. I have to wear
glasses now because the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) affects my vision, causing
a loss of my peripheral which the doctors are unsure of its return. I still
suffer from short term memory loss so Tonya must give me my medications and
assist me in the normal daily living. She has been by my side through my treatments
and if not for her I do not know how I could survive. I do not regret anything
that has happened to me nor do I have anger over it. The only thing I wish
is that I could be the man I use to be for my wife and for my three children.
I’ve proudly served my country, fought hard and long, countless days
and nights doing what I came to love. The memories of those who did not make
it home will forever be a part of me. God bless those men and women still in
harms way and the families who stand behind them. I pray they all come home
soon. And may God bless all of you who have taken the time to read my story.
you would like to donate to Richard Watson, please make checks
or money orders payable to Operation Undergarment and mail them
Valley Federal Credit Union
7900 Mexico Road
P.O. Box 1543
St. Peters, MO 63376
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