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Injured Pa. soldier visits with family

January 11, 2007|by JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Army Spc. Corey J. O'Connor, who was injured in Iraq last week, has been taken off pain medication and is out of the intensive care unit, his father said late Wednesday.

John O'Connor sounded tired after a full day of visiting his son at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Yet, the State Line, Pa., man was upbeat while sharing what he called his "good news."

"The doctors call it a miracle," John O'Connor said. "They can't believe he doesn't have any other damage."

The detonation of an improvised explosive device last Friday in Hawijah, Iraq, set shrapnel ripping through the right side of Corey O'Connor's Humvee. The 20-year-old, who graduated from Waynesboro Area Senior High School in 2004, suffered injuries to his jaw, neck and throat.

Continued swelling has left doctors unable to precisely determine the course of treatment, according to John O'Connor.

Specialists were in and out of the hospital room almost constantly Wednesday, when Corey O'Connor was joined by family for the first time since returning to the United States this week.

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Although worn out by the bustle and recent trouble sleeping, Corey O'Connor especially perked up when Maj. Gen. Eric Schoomaker from Fort Detrick stopped in, his father said.

U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., is expected to visit Friday.

Corey O'Connor's mother and sister stayed with him overnight, and his father plans to join him again today.

The 25th infantry division member has developed a method of combining hand signals and written messages to communicate with the group, since a tracheotomy tube prevents him from speaking.

A maxillofacial specialist will be teaching Corey O'Connor how to use alternative muscle groups to drink and speak, his father said.

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