Brady soldier seriously injured in IED explosion near Baghdad

For Bradyites Mack and Karen Langseth, the telephone call they received Saturday morning was one they’ll never forget. When the short conversation ended, they were left with the news that their son, Tommy, a private in the U.S. Army on active duty in Iraq, had been injured in an explosion. For the rest of the weekend, the scant report delivered by government officials left them hanging by a thread, fearing the worst, but hoping, and praying for the best. “I knew when I saw the number on my caller ID that it wasn’t going to be a normal call,” said Mack during an interview at their home Monday. Tommy, a 2004 Brady High School graduate, enlisted in the army in January 2006 and is stationed at Fort Benning, Ga. An infantryman, he and his squad were on dismounted patrol six miles from his forward operating base approximately 20 miles south of Baghdad. According to his parents, Tommy was injured in the right upper portion of his torso when an improvised explosive devise (IED) was detonated near his patrol. Another soldier in the immediate vicinity was killed in the explosion and several others were injured. “All we knew from the first phone call we received Saturday morning was that he was injured, the other boy was killed and they were taking him to Germany for surgery,” said his mother. “We got a second call from a cell phone directly from his sergeant who was relaying messages from Tommy. We weren’t able to talk to him, but the sergeant told us he was coherent and wanted to call, but was not allowed.” The Langseths spent the rest of the weekend waiting and hoping the call with good news would come. News of the incident spread like wildfire and concerned friends and family members soon began calling to see how they could help. Karen began documenting the phone calls to make sure they knew who had contacted them. As of Monday morning, the list had already reached the third page of letter-sized paper. “Everyone has been so supportive,” said Karen. “We have had so many people show us how much they care that it is hard to believe.” Tommy’s younger brother, Jon, is a junior at Brady High School. When the phone call came in, he was attending The Truth, a religious retreat for high schoolers. Brady ISD Asst. Supt. Liesa Land, a close friend of the family, delivered the news to the group and escorted Jon home. “There was a reason he was at The Truth, surrounded by his friends when the news came in,” said Karen. “Eventually, he went back out there and it gave him an opportunity to be a very powerful witness to how important it is to be right with God. He took it hard, but it was good that he was there because it allowed him to open up and talk about his relationship with Jesus Christ.” From their kitchen table in their home in north Brady, the Langseths beam with pride about their soldier, but the feelings of worry and fear are still painfully obvious on their faces. One of their two cell phones or their home telephone rings on a regular basis with people checking in for updates. “It has been amazing how quickly the word has spread and how many people have called us to check in,” said Karen. “We have been anxiously waiting here by the phones for the next call to give us another update.” After a weekend of virtually no information or updates, the Langseths finally got another call Monday morning. As of 8 a.m. Monday, Tommy had made it to Landstuhl Hospital in Germany and was headed into surgery. “When we got the call today, we were a bit concerned because he was supposed to be in Germany on Sunday and he had just arrived. What we found out was that he apparently was stable enough to allow two other more seriously injured soldiers to go on ahead of him. “That, in a way, was good news that they felt he wasn’t in too much danger, but still, it is hard for a mother to accept anything other than the idea that they need to hurry up and make him well,” she said. With tears in their eyes and voices that get choked up, the Langseths are sad and worried about their son, but they are rejoicing in the fact that he is still alive. “With everything going on, you have to look for the positive things,” said Mack. “Tommy is alive and breathing. There are no injuries that are insurmountable, we can overcome anything, I am just thankful that we are able to look forward to talking to him and seeing him again.” Since the first call came in Saturday morning, the innate desire to be near her injured son has been difficult to deal with, but according to the information given by the military, the Langseths were instructed not to make any travel arrangements. They were told that Tommy would eventually be transferred stateside for additional recovery with the possibility of being sent to Brook Army Medical Hospital in San Antonio. “We are waiting to see what they tell us next before we make any plans,” they said. Until the next bit of information comes in from the military, the steady stream of friends, family members and well-wishers continues at the Langseth’s home. According to Karen, much of the strength she and Mack have is due to the community and more specifically, the kids who they have befriended throughout the years. The First Christian Church has begun collecting donations that will be used to offset travel costs the Langseths will incur. An account has been set up at Commercial National Bank for any additional donations. A late update came Tuesday morning when the Langseths were permitted to speak with Tommy via telephone. According to Mack, Tommy was heavily sedated but was coherent and able to converse. Reports indicate Tommy could be transferred to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington D.C. as soon as Wednesday. The family will wait until confirmation that he is stateside before making any travel plans.

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