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Our Soldiers

SPC John Tedford

My name is SPC Tedford. I was on a mission and was travelling too fast when my Hummvee struck a large mound in the road. I was thrown from the vehicle and hit my head and severely injured my back. I loss 50% of my hearing in both ears, and suffer from PTSD. I now have to do very intrusive and invasive procedures on myself three to four times a day. I served for 17 months during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I am on Medical Hold in a unit away from home.

I want to thank Operation Undergarment for the support they were able to give me. However it just isn't enough at the moment. I am still in need of help. We need a new furnace for my home, the old one smells of gas all the time and I can't be home to fix it. The truck I drive to see my family is in need of costly repairs. I doubt I will be able to see my family by Thanksgiving because of the problems with it. My wife's washing machine is broken and the dryer does not work either.

I have served with Pride, Honor, Loyalty, and Persiverance. I am the American way of life. I will continue to fight and defend my country, to the best I can. I have been declared unfit for combat. I just lost my best friend from a road side bomb. He was my fishing buddy and will be missed. I beat on myself for not being able to be there with him. Maybe there was something I could have done to prevent the loss.

I love my country and I don't regret anything I did over there. I will continue the fight even as a Veteran.

If you would like to donate to SPC Tedford, please make checks or money orders payable to Operation Undergarment and mail them to:

Missouri Valley Federal Credit Union
7900 Mexico Road
P.O. Box 1543
St. Peters, MO 63376

Be sure to note SPC Tedford on the check.

To donate through PayPal to SPC Tedford

Thank you for supporting our brave soldiers.

Richard Watson

Summit Daily News Article

I 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.

On 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.

When 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.

If you would like to donate to Richard Watson, please make checks or money orders payable to Operation Undergarment and mail them to:

Missouri Valley Federal Credit Union
7900 Mexico Road
P.O. Box 1543
St. Peters, MO 63376

To donate through PayPal to Richard

Thank you for supporting our brave soldiers.

Shaun Slone

My name is SGT Shaun Slone. I was from 1-41 Infantry Battalion out of Fort Riley, Kansas. I deployed in June 2004 to Iraq. I served as the squad Leader of Charlie Company. My daily duties included training my soldiers, leading them on missions, and bringing my soldiers home alive. It was a very strenuous job to have, my guys safety was in my hands and the least mistake could have gotten someone hurt or killed. I did this and more every day that I was in Iraq.

My wife was back home living with my parents and two small children and she was pregnant with our third child. I was able to come home for R&R in October 2004 for a few days then had to return to Iraq. Our baby was born on January 19, 2005 and I missed her birth. I was due to come home in June 2005.

On February 10, 2005 my squad and I were out on a mission. We had been out for about 12 hours in our Bradley. I got tired and decided to try to take a cat nap. Then the unthinkable happened. An RPG hit our Bradley, it pierced the track and blew up in my face. It happened so fast, for a second I thought to myself “were any of my guys hurt” and noticed that everyone was ok except myself. I felt like my face was on fire. I looked down and saw blood all over me and checked all over and saw that my arm was wounded.

The medic immediately bandaged me up until they got me to the med tent. I could not cry. I could not think. All I knew was that I had to be strong for my soldiers. I later found out that I endured first and second degree burns on my face hands and left leg. The blast caused stigmatism in my left eye and some hearing loss in both ears. I took shrapnel the size of a nickel to my left forearm, shattering about 2 1/2 inches of my ulna bone leaving a huge metal plate in my arm and a huge gaping hole.

I was then flown to Germany for further care and then to Texas (BAMC) to the burn unit where I stayed for two weeks receiving treatment for my burns. Then I was released to go back to my duty station at Fort Riley where I received further care, including a bone graph, taking bone from my left hip to put into my left arm. My doctor opted to medically board me out of the Army because I could no longer perform any of my duties as an infantryman. I was taken off regular duty and became a CQ NCOIC which became a battle because I had so many appointments to attend on a daily basis and I was on so many medications.

Shortly after my injury in Iraq I was diagnosed with PTSD, Severe Anxiety, Insomnia and Chrone’s Disease which required exploratory stomach surgery to get a polyp removed from my small intestine. I am terrified to go outside and be around groups of people, I am always on alert, I have severe night mares which makes it extremely hard for me to rest peacefully. I sleep on the couch every night alone because I’m scared I will act out my nightmares and unintentionally hurt my wife or kids. I am still receiving physical, mental and occupational therapy at the hospital. I worry everyday how my family is going to make it financially.

Since my injury, my life has changed so much. I wish the nightmares will go away. I wish that I could be off all my medications. I wish I could live a normal life. I try and try to make head and tales of it all but I would do it all over again if I could because it is what I was and what I love ... AMERICA... Thanks so much.

If you would like to donate to Shaun Slone, please make checks or money orders payable to Operation Undergarment and mail them to:

Missouri Valley Federal Credit Union
7900 Mexico Road
P.O. Box 1543
St. Peters, MO 63376

Be sure to note Shaun Slone on the check.

To donate through PayPal to Shaun

Thank you for supporting our brave soldiers.

Bryan Belcher

Below is 21 year old PFC Bryan Belcher's story. After talking with Bryan I realized a strong feeling . . .it was patriotism pulsing thru my veins . . .not that I am not patriotic . .but he unknowingly gave me a "renewed dose". Bryan joined the military after 9-11, following his brother who is also serving. Bryan has serious injuries and he sent me many pictures of his road to recovery. These pictures are hard to look at but after speaking to Bryan I am in awe. I am not going to put up these pictures but I am putting up the picture of him on his hum-vee before the ambush. Bryan is still Bryan . . .meaning that he is the same warrior that he was before the ambush. Bryan refuses to quit and fought to stay in the military and he is recovering. Bryan has many months to go to recover and he will have to deal with PTSD and numerous other problems he will encounter along the way. Please help this brave warrior and show your appreciation by a donation so he may pay off his bills that have accumulated. GOD bless you Bryan and thank you for serving our country! CJ

Here is Bryan's story:
My name is PFC Bryan Belcher. I am from the 27th Engineer battalion out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. I deployed in April of 2006 to Afghanistan. There I was a combat engineer and everyday my job was to go out and look for IEDS and disable them. It is a very dangerous job, but I know that what we are doing will save many soldiers' lives. On August 21st 2006 my platoon was out on a mission and was headed back to base camp when all the sudden we were ambushed. My humvee got hit by 2 rocket propelled grenades (RPG's). Immediately my hummvee caught fire and I had to jump out of the vehicle. I fell to the ground and began rolling around to get the fire off, just then I got shot in my thigh. As a result of these events I received burns to both legs, both hands, face, and chin. I also received a left index finger amputation, shrapnel injuries to both legs, both hands and upper lip. I was taken to the burn center in BAMC in San Antonio, Texas where I was finally released to go back to my base and receive further treatment 4 months later. As of today I am always going to the hospital to receive physical and occupational therapy. I have to wear pressure garments on my hands, legs and thigh to help my burns heal. I love my country and I proudly serve. Thank you!

 

If you would like to donate to Bryan Belcher, please make checks or money orders payable to Operation Undergarment and mail them to:

Missouri Valley Federal Credit Union
7900 Mexico Road
P.O. Box 1543
St. Peters, MO 63376

Be sure to note Bryan Belcher on the check.

To donate through PayPal to Bryan

Thank you for supporting our brave soldiers.

 

I am only one,
but still I am One.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
I will not refuse to do the
Something I can do.
--Helen Keller

Jason Morris

My name is SGT Jason Morris. I am an injured soldier from Iraq. I first joined the Army in September of 1993. I spent 4 years on active duty at Fort Hood, TX. After that I transferred to the MS National Guard, the state I am from. I was deployed to Iraq in January of 2005. We were stationed in Karbala, Iraq. On April 2, 2005, my platoon was on a convoy to Camp Anaconda which is above Baghdad. I don’t remember anything that happened that day but my guys that were with me told me later what had happened. As we were driving by the prison Abu Ghraib the insurgents were attacking it. Two vehicles were in front of me and they pulled over to the side like all of them do. As I was going by the one on the right, the driver back in to me and blew up. That car bomb took out my gunner and disabled my vehicle. Me and my LT. got out of the vehicle. I had been driving, and the second car drove up behind me and exploded. I was hit with 2 vehicle car bombs pretty much at the same time. I had a number of injuries. I broke every bone in my neck. Severely burned my left hand which required a skin graft. I had a piece of shrapnel the size of a Frisbee stuck in my throat. I tore everything in my shoulder. The bad thing about the car bombs was after they went off the insurgents weren’t through. They had 2 machine gunners on a bridge in front of my humvee and they were shooting back at us. I received a gun shot wound to the back of my leg. After all that, I was medivacked out of there and taken to the hospital in Baghdad. I stayed in Iraq for 2 days and in Germany for 2 days. Then I was sent on to BAMC hospital in San Antonio, TX where I stayed in a coma for 11 days and in the hospital for 2 months. I had to stay in San Antonio for almost 2 years before they finally retired me from the Army after 13 years. I really love the military and miss it everyday. I love being a soldier. It was all I knew how to do because I joined when I was 17. Before I retired from the Army, my wife, at the time, was still here in MS and she ended up leaving me for someone else. I have a beautiful little girl that is 7 and the love of my life. I have had to move in with my parents because I can’t be by myself, but I got all the debt that came with the divorce. I don’t know if I would change a whole lot about that day in Iraq because I like to think I did my job the way I was trained to do, but I know I really miss the military a whole lot.

If you would like to donate to Jason Morris, please make checks or money orders payable to Operation Undergarment and mail them to:

Missouri Valley Federal Credit Union
7900 Mexico Road
P.O. Box 1543
St. Peters, MO 63376

To donate through PayPal to Jason

Thank you for supporting our brave soldiers.

Steve Robison 

My name is Steve Robison. I was stationed with the stryker brigade in Alaska. My unit was deployed to Iraq in August 2005. A week before my deployment, my wife gave birth to our baby girl. She was a week old when I left for Iraq. I was deployed for one month before I got hurt.

During a standard patrol through a dangerous neighborhood I came to an intersection. Before I crossed the street shots rang out from the rooftop above me. My left leg was hit in the shin and blew off my leg below the knee. I was also hit in the right calf and have lost most of my feeling in my right leg. My men treated me as quickly as possible and saved my life. When I reached the hospital on the FOB I was still conscious. I asked the doctor about my legs knowing my left leg was already amputated from the gunshot. I had seen my leg hanging off my body only attached by a few tendons and strands of muscle. The doctor at the FOB hospital told me that he wouldn't be able to tell if my right leg could be saved until surgery.

I went into surgery not knowing if I would wake up with one leg or none. I made it back to the states in September of 2005. My baby was just a month old and my wife was having to deal with our child and now my injury. My wife picked up and moved to San Antonio with our child and helped me through my recovery. I recovered quickly and owe it all to my loving and caring wife. Without her at my side I dont know how long it would have taken me to get out of therapy.

Im now a student at a local college and I am getting along fairly well. If you have taken time to read this story I appreciate your time and am thankful for it. If you feel that you can help don't hesitate to help any soldier in need.

Thanks again Steve

If you would like to donate to Steve Robison, please make checks or money order payable to Operation Undergarment and mail them to:

Missouri Valley Federal Credit Union
7900 Mexico Road
P.O. Box 1543
St. Peters, MO 63376

Be sure to note Steve Robison on the check.

To donate through PayPal to Steve

Thank you for supporting our brave soldiers.

Christian Bagge

Operation Undergarment has adopted Christian (24) to help him with expenses of life, as he knows it today. Christian was severely wounded in Iraq over a year ago and needs our help to improve his quality of life. Click here to read Christian's story of courage and hope - in his own words. After reading his story, please donate to help this brave soldier.

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In June of 2004 my reserve unit was called to active duty to fight the war on terror in Iraq. Like many other men my age I was excited to be involved in something bigger, something exciting. I'll admit that as we crossed the burm into Iraq from Kuwait I was terrified. In the weeks and months to come, feelings of fear soon shifted as we overcame insurgent attacks and adjusted to the fast paced lifestyle of being in a combat zone. Air assault missions became the new excitement for the platoon as we joined with Special Forces units in the area to root out the local insurgency. Village raids would be conducted in the shadows of the night, routinely called "snatch and grabs".

It didn't take long before I felt invincible. Although I didn't let on, my attitude began to change drastically as we were mandated to attend all funerals or "ramp ceremonies" within the brigade. It seemed like we lost a man everyday for a while. It started hitting home when our company lost one of our own. There's something about death that has the ability to strike fear into each of us, and when it does, it's hard to ignore.

The explosion ripped through the floor of my up-armored HMVEE with a blast so fierce that it tore my permanent retainer from my teeth, and popped one earplug out. Silence seemed to linger for minutes before Mendez called out my name. I could reply only with uncontrollable screams and moans that conveyed the pain I was feeling. My eyes were stinging from the dirt and debris spit up off the desert floor, and my mouth was littered with the overwhelming sweet taste of explosives and blood. Fear set in as I noticed my blood-soaked uniform. My entire left arm was warm and red, and the toe of my left boot was turned completely around and pointed at me. My right leg was buried under debris within the cab of the vehicle. I realized that moving my legs was pointless, they would not respond to my desire to pull them free. My whole world seemed to shatter as I thought about my death.

Here I am: broken, tired, and weak. How could I leave my new wife so soon? What have I done to her? My mind raced as I lay, my lungs and vocal chords strained, yet unwilling to cease their desperate cry. I began to pray. Outloud I frantically begged Jesus to forgive me of my sins one last time, to take away the unbearable pain that consumed my being. Over and over I cried out, hoping to be set free from my body..... I'm getting tired. The thought of falling asleep captivates me, everything else slipping away. Only the slaps of the men close to me bring me back to reality. It was obvious that I am hurt bad, really bad. I was almost starting to believe our medic - "everything is ok, it's not that big of a deal" until someone from another unit came up and blurted out "Holy Shit!"

From that moment I knew my guys were lying to me. It seemed like an eternity before the choppers came. Ninety minutes with no morphine has that effect. I begged for some kind of pain relief when I was settled into the helicopter. The crew did honor my request, but didn't do much for the immense pain. Dust was flying everywhere as we landed in Balad. It took only seconds for medical soldiers and airmen to get me from the helicopter to the rolling hospital bed. A team of six or more people surrounded me as we rolled down to the operating room; poking, prodding, asking seemingly complex questions that I could not answer. I lay feeling helpless as I watched the lights pass by, just like the movies. My last request was that someone tie my wedding ring around my wrist. I fell asleep almost instantly.

"Christian!...Christian!...Christian!" I could hear my name, but was extremely disoriented as someone pulled the tube from my throat. I tried opening my eyes but could see only a blur of light. "Hey guy, your legs have been amputated to save your life. You're in Germany and should be on your way home when we can get you on a flight." I burst into tears and seemed to cry for several long minutes. My mind raced as I thought of my wife. I had so many fears, so many questions, many of which could only be answered by me, and with time.

It's been just over a year now since my injury. I walk, I run, I laugh daily. In every day I find purpose, peace, and love. Every day brings new challenges and new struggles and is a reality that my life is forever changed. Even though my life has changed dramatically, I can honestly say it's not bad, just different. Someone once told me that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. I believe that to this day.

I have proudly served this country for seven years, and would gladly do it again. Becoming a soldier has been a true honor. To stand and fight with so many great Americans is a gift that I will never forget. Although some may be growing weary of the war on terror, I ask you to remember those who have fallen, those who have served, and those who have sacrificed so much for our great country. Do not let their sacrifice be in vain, stay the course.

Let's finish the job together...as a free people...as Americans! I am an American soldier and I love my country. God bless you all.

-SSG Christian B.

If you would like to donate to Christian, please send checks or money order to:

Missouri Valley Federal Credit Union
7900 Mexico Road
P.O. Box 1543
St. Peters, MO 63376

To donate through PayPal to Christian

Thank you for supporting our brave soldiers.

  

 

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