Friday, September 4, 2009

Spc. Jeremy Pierce: a visit with a true Oregon hero

Today I visited with Oregon Army National Guard member, Spc. Jeremy Pierce at Walter-Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C.

The visit came about by chance. As you may recall in a previous blog post, and on our Facebook page, Michael Ring, owner of Bridge City Comics in Portland, Ore., has donated thousands of comic books to our fellow Oregonians deployed overseas.

I thought it was a good idea to also send a bunch of comic books to Jeremy, who is recuperating at Walter Reed, following an IED attack on his convoy in mid August. But since I recently learned I would be on a 30-day assignment at the National Guard Bureau here in D.C., I suggested to Michael that I personally deliver the comic books to Jeremy. He thought it was a great idea.

So I set out to Walter Reed this morning, and brought along Maj. Steve Arntt and Maj. Rick Crowther--two fellow Oregon Army National Guard members who are on extended tours at NGB.

No cameras. No fanfare. No media in tow. Just a few Oregonians visiting another Oregonian who could use some company.

Jeremy was very happy to see us. Following introductions, I handed him the packet of comic books and told him the story behind the donation.

"I'll have to call him and personally thank him," Jeremy said of Mr. Ring.

I am happy to say that in spite of his wounds, Jeremy is upbeat, and retains a very positive mental attitude. He possesses a humble nature, and an appreciation for his life, friends, and the organization to which he has fully devoted himself.

His sense of humor is also serving him very well.

A nurse came into the room to change out one of the tubes that supplies him with pain medicine. She asked him if he had any more chocolates stashed in the snack drawer he had next to his bed.

"No," he said. "Every time I open that bag, the chocolate somehow disappears," the young specialist said, flashing us a mischievous smile.

His physical therapist then showed up, asking if he would like to go downstairs and do a workout.

"Nah," he told her. "I'm supposed to get a bath soon."

He then stopped her. "But if I change my mind, can I just come down there on my own?"

We chatted for about an hour. Jeremy told us details about the incident that changed his life. He told us he owes everything to his "truck buddies" and the EOD medical team who helped saved his life.

He also said he wants to continue serving in the Oregon Army National Guard.

"The National Guard has been good to me," he said. "It's all I've ever known. I hope to continue serving."

As we prepared to leave, he told us he wasn't in the Oregon National Guard very long--having transferred from the Alaska Army Guard just before the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team began their pre-deployment training at Camp Stewart, Calif.

He said since his fellow Alaskans weren't scheduled to deploy to the Middle East until 2012, he joined up with the 41 IBCT so he could deploy to a combat theater.

"I was only in the Oregon Guard for a couple of months," he said. "But everyone has been so nice to me--people from all throughout the Oregon Guard have come to see me, and written me letters."

Maj. Arntt then said something that the entire room was thinking at that very moment.

"It doesn't matter if you were in the Oregon National Guard for 10 minutes or 10 years," Arntt said. "You're part of our family now."

Indeed Jeremy. You ARE an Oregonian now.

Welcome to the family.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy
Oregon National Guard Social Media Manager
(from Washington D.C.)

PS: If you feel compelled to send something to Jeremy Pierce, he likes Ghirardelli chocolate with almonds and hazel nuts. :) Please comment here if you would like his mailing address.

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