A ‘spring in the step’ at Landstuhl
LANDSTUHL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER, Germany — Cpl. Matt Macke was recuperating Monday in a hospital bed when he learned that Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan. A quilt stitched with the colors of the flag covered his legs, which had been injured in a roadside bomb blast last week.
“I hope that with us finally getting him, it has a psychological effect on the insurgents,” he said. “Letting them know that even if you are the highest guy, we’re still going to find you.”
Macke, of the Iowa National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, had been on a reconnaissance mission April 26 in eastern Afghanistan’s Paktia province when the truck he and his soldiers were traveling in rolled over a roadside bomb’s pressure plate.
“There was a loud thump,” he said, “like you rear-ended someone in a car. Then my ears started to ring and the dust entered the truck.”
The force of the explosion fractured bones in Macke’s right foot and left leg. He was the only soldier injured in the blast.
“I feel very fortunate that nobody else was hurt,” he said. “And that I’ve still got 10 toes.”
The experience, however, was nothing new for Macke, who had been injured in a roadside bomb attack on a previous tour to Iraq. He still has scars from where the shrapnel peppered his arms and back.
Even with the capture of bin Laden, there was still work to be done in Afghanistan, Macke said.
“It’s definitely a good thing,” he said, “And I am glad that we got him. But I want our operational guys to get the midlevel leaders — the guys that are providing the financing and carrying the equipment.”
A medical technician on Macke’s ward, Staff Sgt. Brandi Green, said the staff at Landstuhl had an extra bounce in their step as they walked the hospital’s hallways. Since January 2004, doctors and nurses at Landstuhl, the hub for all U.S. troops injured downrange, have treated nearly 3,900 servicemembers injured in combat in Afghanistan.
“I think we are all feeling a sense of pride,” Green said. “This is one of those times as a military member where you are proud of our boys who brought him to justice.”