Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wounded state lawmaker flies home from Iraq

Doctors have not decided whether to remove the bullet he received from sniper fire in Iraq.

By LINDSAY HANSON METCALF
The Kansas City Star

A Missouri state representative who was wounded in Iraq arrived at Kansas City International Airport on Tuesday evening, hours after surprising his family with news of his return.
“I’m just really happy to be home right now,” said a visibly fatigued Jason Brown, an Army Reserve staff sergeant from Platte City.

Brown, 36, said doctors had not decided whether to remove the bullet in his left lung, the result of sniper fire Thursday in Baghdad. Doctors were amazed, Brown said, that the lung did not collapse.

“I’m sore and I’m tired and I’m really happy to be standing,” said Brown, who was able to walk off the plane.

He is on a 30-day convalescent leave and will return to Iraq for “light duty.”

“You should go back and do your job,” said Brown, who runs a gun turret for the 414th Civil Affairs Battalion of Utica, N.Y.

Brown said a fellow soldier had been shot in the shoulder during the incident but was doing OK. Brown would not identify his comrade nor discuss the incident further, saying he would issue a news release in the coming days.

A family spokesman, George McClintock, said last week that Brown was wearing a bulletproof flak jacket but may have been shot in an area that was unprotected.

Dozens of friends, family and media assembled to greet Brown. Before giving interviews, he threw down his bag and knelt to hug his daughter, Alayna, 8, and son, Caleb, 4. His wife, Rachelle, had no words at first — only a long-awaited hug and kiss.

“I’m overcome with emotions,” Rachelle Brown said later. “I can’t even explain it.”
Rachelle Brown said she had received several phone calls and e-mails from her husband since he was injured. Before his plane landed, however, she didn’t know whether he had undergone surgery.

She said she found out Tuesday afternoon he was coming home.

Jason Brown said doctors had kept him in Baghdad until he left Sunday for a series of flights to Kansas City.

Brown, a Republican, is seeking re-election in the 30th House District. He was elected to the General Assembly in 2002 and has served from abroad since his April deployment to Iraq for a yearlong tour.

Brown joined the military in 1989. In 2000, he served in Bosnia-Herzegovina on a peacekeeping mission.

His unit works to help communities establish government and provide basic services. Among the unit’s duties was to help manage infrastructure projects and distribute water, food, medical supplies and clothing, he wrote in an earlier news release.

In the release, Brown said his area of service — east of the Tigris River in Baghdad — has had a high level of insurgent activity that began before his unit started to operate there.

Brown’s opponent is Democrat Jared Welch, who is a member of the Missouri Air National Guard and has served since 1995. Currently, he serves in the judge advocate general corps.
The well-wishers included Platte County Presiding Commissioner Betty Knight; Rep. Susan Phillips, who serves southern Platte County; and Brown’s fellow church members, including Cheryl and Dave Clark of Platte City. Cheryl Clark had coordinated First Christian Church’s efforts to bring meals to the family and had expected Rachelle to travel to meet Jason for surgery in Germany.

The Clarks considered Brown’s condition an answered prayer.

Said Cheryl Clark, “Amazing.”

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