Friday, September 14, 2007

Lance Update, 9.13.07

Hello family and friends,

I heard from Lance again today. What a blessing to hear his voice! He is doing better each day. He can move his neck and lift his head a little. The swelling in his face and neck is going down. The CAT scan results showed a fractured sternum so that is causing his chest pain. He was fitted for a custom back brace today but when they tried to sit him up to put it on he went very pale and almost passed out so they had to lay him back down. They told him not to be discouraged and to just take baby steps in the recovery process. He had so hoped to be able to sit up and be wheeled down the hall to visit his buddy PFC Brendall.

He told me an amazing story of how Brendall had not only been the soldier to pull him out of the wreckage but that he learned that day that Brendall had also helped to save his life by holding him into the back of the truck as it plunged off the overpass. He said as they were about to go over the edge Brendall tried to jump out the back but Lance and SGT. Rivera were in the way of him getting out the back. As they went over, Brendall (who Lance had just taken to Chapel for the first time that very night) made the decision to save "Preach". He grabbed Lance as tight as he could and pushed him down, holding on to him with one arm and hanging onto the truck with the other. Lance said he would have flown out the back if Brendall would not have been hanging on to him. When they hit, the two of them were separated. Lance was buried under wreckage and three dead bodies including one almost 300 pound insurgent. He lay unconcious and then when he woke up he said it was very dark and he could only hear weeping, screaming and what he thought was gnashing of teeth. He was terrified and believed he had gone to hell! He cried out to the Lord and said, "I know Lord that I deserve nothing more but I have tried to be a faithful man." Just then he heard a voice calling out, "Preach, Preach where are you. I know you are in there!" Lance kept trying to move or say something. He finally moved his left toes enough for Brendall to see them. Brendall then began throwing the bodies and the torn wreckage off of Lance and dragged him out. As Lance saw light he also saw Brendall collapse from his injuries. He had 5 broken ribs in the back near his spine, a broken arm, hand and nose and a collapsed lung.

Lance thought Brendall had died. Then his other comrades began to be laid next to him and the rescuers said, "This one's dead (that was Weeks), this one is also dead (that one was Mora)." One by one Lance could see them and he thought they all had died but him and Lt. Roberts who was holding Lance's ear and scalp on. He kept praying for the Lt. and telling him they would be okay. The Lt. just kept crying until the Medi-Vac unit arrived. Lance then can't remember much until waking up from surgery.

Some of you wanted to know about the men who had passed away and some of Lance's buddies that I have written about before. The deceased are Staff Sgt. Gray (one of the authors of the NY times article), Staff Sgt. Rivera (married with 2 kids), Sgt. Hardegree, Sgt. Mora (another author of the NY piece, Lance met regularly with him for Bible Studies. He was a strong Christian), Sgt. Patterson (married with a 4 yr. old), Spc. Weeks (Lance's very good bud that is in that picture with him and is a newlywed), and Spc. Elrod.

The survivors' injuries that I can remember: PFC Keyes is in ICU with broken limbs and his spleen removed, Brendall who I mentioned earlier (can't walk yet from the injuries but will heal), Lt. Roberts broken shoulder, Sgt. Simpson scalp injuries like Lance (and will also go to Georgia with Lance), most of them have broken bones and are getting around really well. Two are in ICU. No major head injuries or spinal cord injuries and no amputations! Most of the guys have come into Lance's room and have told him they believe that God is the one who spared their life. Sgt. Simpson who has been rooming with Lance at the hospital asked for a Bible today!

Lance is leaving Germany on Friday at 9:00 am on a bus (midnight our time) and 1:00 pm on a plane. He will arrive in Washington, D.C. at 4:30 pm Eastern Time. He said they will stay overnight to stabilize again and then transfer to Eisenhower Army Medical Center at Fort Gordon, in Augusta, Georgia on Saturday. There is a chance he will not make it there until Sunday so we will fly out Sunday to see him. With the exception of Sgt. Simpson, all the other men are going to Fort Bragg, NC. This will be a sad separation for them all.

Lance mentioned in his phone call this morning that he had the best night sleep that he has had since arriving in Iraq. He said for the first night there was no rockets, mortars or sounds from artillery. He said no one turned on the lights and shouted "TST, let's go!!!" No one was shooting an AK-47 at him. He said he just slept in peace and it was so sweet!

On a lighter note...
Lance has been joking with the nurses that he is excited that he has finally had plastic surgery so he is an official Californian! He told me on the phone that he only wishes they would have gone ahead and added some pec/chest implants and maybe a six-pack of abs or calf implants while they were at it but oh well!!!
Lance is looking so much better each day. Our friend Matt who is in Germany took a video of Lance and emailed it to us. He is looking good, you can tell he is on a lot of morphine but it is so sweet to see him. What a gift! I thought I would share it with all of you so here it is on youtube . (a few posts down)

Let me also share with you that your love and support has been overwhelming. I have never felt so uplifted in prayer. We have had offers for plane tickets, hotels and cash for our travel expenses. It is so humbling! We see this as God's hand in everything and we give him all the glory and praise. Grace Church in San Luis Obispo is setting up a fund as well as Nancy Villa, my dear friend (805-545-5950), who is coordinating with Sesloc Credit Union to set up a fund to help with our travel plans. My father's church has offered Lance a hospital bed when he is finally ready to come home to rehabilitate here (I'm thinking the bunk bed with his brother might not work for awhile!). It has been such a blessing to not have to worry about how this crisis will impact us financially. So thank you to everyone! Our plans, after the first week together, are to alternate flying out to Georgia with one of us always staying here with the family and one being with Lance. I am sure that is not the cheapest way to do things but it will be the best on the other children.

Thank you for your prayers, your support and your offers to help! I believe that God shows his love for us in these times through others and He has brought us such peace during this difficult time, a peace that surpasses all understanding. God bless you all!

In His grace and for His glory,

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