In the past three weeks, you’ve seen a sad run of stories about fallen Joint Base Lewis-McChord solders in Afghanistan. We think they’re important to publish to pay our respects to these service members who gave their all in combat.
They are not the only casualties the local military community is experiencing these days.
Several parents of wounded Lewis-McChord soldiers in recent weeks have highlighted the stories of their children coping with serious combat injuries in media reports around the country. It’s up to them to share these stories because the Defense Department does not release specific information about nonfatal casualties.
Medic Spc. Heidi Olson of Lewis-McChord’s 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment was one of three soldiers wounded in Kandahar when one of them stepped on a mine. She told an interviewer from her alma mater, George Fox University, that she was “lucky.”
“I knew I was hurt,” said Olson, 23. “As a medic, you look at others, make sure they are OK; you look after them and then you take care of yourself.” Olson says she checked her feet, then legs, arms and hands. All were still there. But when it came time for her left eye, she said she asked her fellow medic if it was still there. She was assured it was.
Last week, Spc. Josh Wetzel of Glencoe, Ala. lost both of his legs to a mine. He serves with Lewis-McChord’s 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment. Wetzel’s family has created a moving Facebook page, where they are posting updates about his recovery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
“You can’t keep me down,” Wetzel reportedly told his mother on his flight to the states.