Lakeshore soldier loses arms in Afghan attack

6:11 PM, May 23, 2012   |    comments
  • Specialist Eric Lund (Courtesy: Melissa Boggs)
  • Specialist Eric Lund (Courtesy: Melissa Boggs)
  • Image of Spec. Eric Lund. (Courtesy: Facebook page of Citizen Soldiers: Real life stories from the boys of Charlie Troop)
    
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LUDINGTON, Mich. (WZZM) -- The family of a Ludington soldier injured in an attack in Afghanistan say they may fly Thursday to meet him at a U.S. hospital.

Specialist Eric Lund was injured Sunday when his unit hit improvised explosive devices (IED) and came under attack in northern Afghanistan.  He was one of ten members of the Michigan Army National Guard injured in the attack.

Lund's aunt, Melissa Boggs, says he was in the turret of the lead vehicle, which hit an IED and flipped.  She says he lost one arm in the explosion, and suffered severe injuries to his back, pelvis and right leg, along with a broken nose and other facial fractures.  Doctors had to amputate his other arm because of arterial damage.

Doctors performed surgery on Lund and stabilized his injuries in Afghanistan.  Earlier this week, Lund was flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in German.  Boggs says he may be flown to another medical center as soon as Thursday, and she and Lund's parents will leave Ludington to meet him.

Another vehicle in the National Guard convoy hit another IED, injuring more soldiers.  Boggs says they traded some gunfire with their attackers.

Four other soldiers suffered serious injuries, though Lund's were the worst.

Boggs says her family has received a huge outpouring of support from the Ludington community in the wake of Lund's injuries, and she thanks them all for their thoughts and prayers.

DETROIT (Det. Free Press) -- In the worst attack in years on a Michigan National Guard unit, 10 soldiers from the Dowagiac-based 1-126th Cavalry were wounded by two roadside bombs that hit their convoy in Northern Afghanistan. One lost both arms and two suffered serious head injuries, the National Guard said Wednesday.

The soldier whose arms were destroyed was identified as Spec. Eric Lund of Ludington. He also suffered facial wounds and was transported to a hospital in Germany, said Capt. Aaron Jenkins, state public affairs officer for the Michigan National Guard.

Jenkins said the convoy was attacked Sunday.

"They were on a patrol and they encountered two IEDs," he said, using the military shorthand for improvised explosive devices - homemade bombs often detonated by cell phone signals.

"The way they generally operate," Jenkins said of Afghan insurgents, "is two IEDs, a smaller one to slow or stop the convoy with injuries and then a second, bigger one when more troops are exposed." The second bomb is usually set off by someone watching from nearby who sees troops leaving the protection of their vehicles, he said.

The 1-126th is expected to be the last combat arms unit of the Michigan National Guard sent to Afghanistan now that the the U.S. is winding down its military presence. Jenkins said they are among six Michigan Guard units now there, four Army and two Air Guard.

The 1-126th was featured in a column I wrote for the March 25 Free Press in which they asked Michigan residents to support them by clicking "like" on their Facebook page, www.facebook.com/afghanistanbound. The unit, Charlie Troop, is also to be the subject of a documentary film called "Citizen Soldiers," directed by one of its members, Sgt Jason Hale of Rochester, a filmmaker in civilian life.

Hale wrote a letter afterward giving credit to prayers from people in Michigan for Charlie Troop emerging unscathed from an attack on the very Sunday the coluimn appeared in the Free Press.

"Right as darkness was setting in, we were hit with rockets, mortars and machine gun fire," he wrote. "There had to have been angels standing in front of us, because after a number of rockets, machine gun fire and probably eight or nine mortars that landed on both sides of the hill we were on, not one of our soldiers was injured. It was a true miracle.

"I hope and pray that our good fortune continues for the rest of our tour, and in my heart I believe that there were those people in Michigan who had read your article that day and whispered quiet prayers to God on our behalf, and those prayers were felt during that attack."

A notice on the troop's Facebook page Wednesday said "the unfortunate side of war struck the boys of Charlie Troop ... as 10 of our soldiers were medevaced off the battlefield. Valor, heroism and selfless acts of courage to help save each others lives sheilded our soldiers from death, although some of the injuries were life threatening. Continued prayer for those soldiers and their families and please pray not only for our safety, but that the evil men who did this will have justice brought to them."

Jenkins said the attack was the most serious on the Michigan National Guard since 2006, when eight members of one unit were killed in fighting in Afghanistan. The Michigan National Guard has lost 20 members of the 19,000 who have been called into action since the U.S. went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

"Our hearts go out to the brave soldiers injured and to their family members," said Maj. Gen. Gregory Vadnais, director of the Michigan Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and commander of the Michigan National Guard, said Wednesday of the latest wounded. "Their sacrifices are greatly appreciated by a proud state and nation."

The members of Charlie Troop are due home this fall. They would surely be grateful to remain in your thoughts and prayers in the meantime.

By Ron Dzwonkowski, Detroit Free Press columnist

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