Injured Fort Bragg Soldier to Get Homecoming in Nebraska
Posted September 13, 2007 11:17 p.m. EDT
Updated September 14, 2007 7:16 a.m. EDT
Fort Bragg, N.C. — A grateful community is helping an injured Fort Bragg soldier go home for the first time in more than two years.
Army Specialist Matt O'Brien, who is stationed at Fort Bragg, said he has not visited his family in his home state in Nebraska since he was deployed to Iraq in 2004.
During a later deployment in Afghanistan, he suffered an eye injury that keeps him at Fort Bragg for treatment.
"I woke up one morning, and I just noticed my right eye wasn't right," O'Brien said. "And I couldn't read anything at all."
O'Brien lost sight in his right eye and has only partial vision in his left eye. He is being treated at Fort Bragg, but said the doctors still don't know what caused the loss of vision or if it can be repaired.
While recovering, O'Brien got tickets to see his favorite team, Nebraska, play Wake Forest in Winston-Salem last Saturday. At the game, he was interviewed by ESPN.com.
A radio station in his home state in Nebraska picked up the story, and the community rallied, raising money to bring O'Brien home. He'll be there to watch Nebraska take on the University of Southern California.
O'Brien, though, said he's looking forward to more than the big game.
"I haven't seen my mom in at least two years. I haven't seen some of my brothers in a longer time," he said.
Thoughts of those family members that kept him going during his tours in first Iraq, and then Afghanistan, O'Brien said.
"It can be crazy at times. It was unpredictable, was the biggest thing I could explain," he said. "You never knew what was going to happen."
O'Brien said that for now, he knows for certain he'll be having an emotional trip home.