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Soldier on the mend

May 20, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - Nancy Burral of Boonsboro heard her daughter's voice Monday for the first time since the U.S. Army specialist's five-ton truck was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq.

"It was a bad connection and it was very scratchy, but I could hear her say, 'Mom, I'm OK,'" Nancy Burral said. "That was enough."

Mary Burral, 24, was recovering Monday at a hospital in Rota, Spain, from a broken leg and shrapnel wounds to her arms and legs.

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The 1996 graduate of Boonsboro High School may return to the United States by the end of the week, her mother said.

Nancy Burral talked to Mary Burral's commanding officer over the weekend and learned that her daughter was leading a two-truck convoy when her truck was hit at 3:15 p.m. Friday, Iraq time.

A passenger in the truck suffered injuries to his hands and arms, but is back on duty. The attack is under investigation.

Two soldiers in the other truck said Burral didn't whimper or cry when they went to help her, her mother said she was told by the commanding officer. She was flown by helicopter to a field hospital, where she was treated before being transferred to Rota.

Burral had lost a lot of blood through a wound to her arm that hit an artery and her left leg is fractured and was set with pins and rods, doctors and nurses in Rota told the family.

A breathing tube that had been inserted was removed Monday.

"The doctor says she's doing great. Her morale's great," Nancy Burral said.

The Burral family doesn't know if she will be able to come home to 215 Carroll Court or if she will have to be hospitalized after she returns from Spain, which could happen this week.

In any case, the family plans to be there when her plane lands at Andrews Air Force Base.

"As soon as she gets off that plane, my arms are going to be around her," said Nancy Burral, who works at her family's upholstery shop. "I'm so proud of her. She's our hero."

Mary Burral's father, George Burral Jr., works at Jamison Door Co. in Hagerstown.

Nancy Burral spent Monday shopping for presents to give her daughter upon her return, including an addition to her teddy bear collection.

Nancy Burral said she was worried about her daughter's safety during the war, but had become less concerned in recent weeks because most of the fighting had stopped.

"Two weeks ago when I talked to her, she had not seen a weapon fired. She was not in harm's way," she said.

Mary Burral decided in January 2001 to join the Army. When she was assigned to work in Germany a few weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, her mother began sending care packages to her battalion.

Mary Burral's 54th Engineering Battalion was working on rebuilding Iraq's roads after the war. She had expected to serve in the Middle East until September.

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