Local News

Injured Soldier: Casualties 'Part of What We Do'

Posted April 4, 2007 5:26 p.m. EDT
Updated April 4, 2007 6:41 p.m. EDT

— Four years into the Iraq War, American support for the mission is dwindling and a recent poll shows Iraqis are divided on the issue. But for U.S. troops serving in the war, and especially those injured in the line of duty, the issue is more emotional.

On March 26, Spc. Andrew Harriman stopped being a medic and became a patient instead. The 82nd Airborne soldier had just completed a hunt for insurgents in the Diyala province and was stepping onto the Chinook when he was shot.

"I knew I wasn't going to die, but I couldn't feel my leg," Harriman said. "That was the first time since I'd been in Iraq I was scared."

Two weeks and four surgeries later, Harriman is recovering at Ft. Bragg's Womack Army Medical Center. He's aware of the growing anti-war sentiment, but it doesn't bother him.

"It's mainly misinformation," he said. "If one of my friends protested, I wouldn't be angry with them, because they don't have the information that guys who have been there do."

The wounded vet said troops are making a difference in Iraq, town by town and village by village.

“I can tell we've greatly reduced the Al-Qaeda cells,” Harriman said. “People just read the headlines, they don't read the stories."

There are stories like one in a recent Time magazine, which features Harriman's fateful mission. He’s shown treating another wounded soldier, two days before he would get hit himself.

Given the chance, Harriman said he'd go back to Iraq in a heartbeat and fight with his buddies for what he believes in, even if a majority of his fellow Americans don't.

“The number of coalition troops killed is outrageous,” he said. “But compared to Vietnam in the same time span, the numbers are much smaller. It's going to happen. I'm not saying its acceptable, but it's part of what we do."

Harriman will spend at least two more weeks in the hospital. It's too soon to tell if he will fully recover.