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Sgt. Charles Watkins, a Humvee driver with 155th Infantry Battalion from Mississippi, logs on to the Ford Motor Co. Web site to check out truck prices, on one of the new wireless laptops donated to the 86th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad by the Wounded Warrior program out of Omaha, Neb.

Sgt. Charles Watkins, a Humvee driver with 155th Infantry Battalion from Mississippi, logs on to the Ford Motor Co. Web site to check out truck prices, on one of the new wireless laptops donated to the 86th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad by the Wounded Warrior program out of Omaha, Neb. (Sandra Jontz / S&S)

BAGHDAD — Sgt. Charles Watkins’ wife already knew his gunshot wound wasn’t fatal. So, in the moments he had to use the Internet last week while awaiting transport from the 86th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad, he logged onto the Ford Motor Co.’s Web site.

“I’m looking to buy me a truck,” said the 42-year-old Humvee driver from Company A of the 155th Infantry Battalion from Mississippi.

Watkins, an activated National Guardsman, suffered a gunshot wound to the back of his left knee the day before. He was not wounded by enemy fire, but said he was not allowed to give more details of the incident.

While waiting to be discharged from the hospital and flown to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, he got a chance to log on to one of the six brand new wireless computers donated to the combat hospital by the Wounded Warriors program out of Omaha, Neb.

U.S. troops don’t tend to spend much time at the 86th CSH, located within the fortified Green Zone in Baghdad. The hospital, set up in the hospital building Saddam Hussein reserved for family and close friends, serves to stabilize troops before transferring them to Germany, spokeswoman Maj. Christine Edwards said.

But during those critical hours in which they are hospitalized, the new Dell laptop computers with wireless Internet connectivity, worth about $1,500 each, give them the chance to reach home and send word of their situation, said Capt. Lance Jackson, deputy chief information officer.

It is especially beneficial to those who are bedridden and can’t get to the computers set up in the Morale Welfare and Recreation area to tell “their girlfriends or boyfriends, their mom or dad, what’s going on and that ‘hey, I’m OK,’” Jackson said.

Or, in Watkins’ case, price out that new Ford F-150 pickup.


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