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Mont Alto soldier wounded

November 17, 2006|by DON AINES

MONT ALTO, PA. - Edward and Goldie Shaffer were positioned by the telephone Thursday night, waiting to hear word of their grandson who was critically wounded Monday by a roadside bomb in Iraq and was on his way back to the United States with his parents and brother by his side.

Sgt. Edward W. "Eddie" Shaffer, 24, was burned over 80 percent of his body in the explosion near Ramadi, said his grandfather, Edward Shaffer. Eddie Shaffer's parents, Edward C. and Brenda Shaffer, went to Germany along with his 22-year-old brother, Timothy, to accompany him back to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, Edward Shaffer said.

Edward Shaffer said a U.S. Army general called him Thursday to inform him of the circumstances of how his grandson was wounded.

"He said he took the brunt of it ... He's a gunner in a Bradley," Shaffer said.

At least one other crewman in the Bradley was injured, he said. The Bradley is a tracked armored personnel carrier with a turret-mounted 25 mm automatic cannon.

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Eddie Shaffer, who enlisted in the Army in 2003, was serving with the 136th Infantry, Co. B, Third Platoon, Shaffer said. Reuters this week reported heavy fighting Monday between U.S. forces and insurgents in the Sunni stronghold of Ramadi, about 70 miles west of Baghdad.

"When they made the first evaluation, they thought he was going to lose both his feet and his hands," Edward Shaffer said of his grandson's injuries. A later prognosis was somewhat better, but he said they did not yet know whether their grandson will survive his injuries.

"They said anything could happen on that flight to Texas," he said. The 15-hour flight from Germany on a military transport was to have begun Thursday morning, but was delayed by mechanical problems, he said.

"He was already injured a couple of times in grenade attacks" and has two Purple Hearts, Shaffer said. "They'd patch him up and send him back out again."

"I was hoping he'd make it back without being hurt more," Goldie Shaffer said. "He was in the hospital one other time."

"He enlisted about the time things started over there (in Iraq)," Edward Shaffer said of his grandson's decision to go into the Army. "Some of his friends enlisted and I think they gave him a good impression of it."

Eddie Shaffer attended Thompson Institute to study computers after graduating from Waynesboro Area Senior High School in 2002, Shaffer said. He served in Germany and Kuwait before going to Iraq and had been in that country for about eight months, his grandfather said.

They last saw Eddie Shaffer in June when he was back home on a two-week leave. Eddie seemed cheerful, but had a low opinion of many of the Iraqi soldiers they were there to train and support.

"They'd get a couple of paydays in and they'd be over fighting" with the insurgents, Edward Shaffer said.

"Sunday he called (his parents) and said about his buddies getting hurt by the same kind of bomb and here he's hurt the next day," Edward Shaffer said.

"He was big on computers. He'd run them all the time," the grandfather said. "We even sent him a couple of computers over there."

His grandson is also "a big baseball card collector" and enjoys hunting, he said. Eddie Shaffer ran track and played junior varsity football in high school, the grandparents said.

"You'd better believe he's a good kid. He's a pretty quiet boy," Edward Shaffer said.

On the kitchen table, Goldie Shaffer spread out pictures of their grandson - catching his first fish at about the age of 3, going to kindergarten, in his Little League baseball uniform, his high school yearbook photo - and dressed in his fatigues during his last trip home.

Friends and family visited early Thursday evening offering support in whatever way they could.

"Everybody's been so helpful to us," Goldie said. "There's a lot of churches praying for him."

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