13 Apr

Special Request ~ Please Help Show SGT Downs Support

I am asking everyone to please help with your prayers, and by sending a card or letter to show your support to SGT Kevin Downs. He is a discouraged hero right now and just as he served our country he needs us now more then ever to show him we are grateful and that we care. Thank you.
Wild Thing

On 13 August 2005, near the city of Tuz in northeastern Iraq, the Humvee that Sgt. James K. (Kevin) Downs and three others were traveling in was struck by four explosive devices. The four men were members of a National Guard unit, the 278th Regimental Combat Team, a Knoxville-based unit of 3,200 soldiers deployed to Iraq in late 2004. The three other National Guardsmen in the Humvee were killed in the attack. They were 22-year- old Sgt. Gary Lee Reese of Ashland City, 35-year-old Staff Sgt. Asbury F. Hawn Jr. of Lebanon, and 30-year-old Sgt. Shannon D. Taylor of Smithville. Sgt. Downs was blown into the air by the blast.
The young soldier (a 23 year old Tennessee National Guardsman) named Sgt. Kevin Downs needs our support. He was blown out of his tank and left with no feet, two broken legs, a broken arm and pelvis, and second- and third-degree burns over 60% of his body, including burns to his eyes, throat and lungs.
He was first evacuated to a hospital in Germany, then transferred to a burn unit at a hospital in San Antonio, Texas, where he is now recuperating at the Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston.
He is a Tennessee boy. Everyone else in the tank was killed. His condition is not good. A surgery to improve the use of fingers on one hand inadvertently caused previous skin grafts to break down, and the grafts on his legs are cracking as well and may require beginning over at square one. Kevin is tired and low in spirits. He needs our prayers and support through cards. Would you please send him a note or card to let him know you are thinking about him? Remember him in your prayers as well.
His address is:
Sgt. Kevin Downs
Brooke Army Medical Center
3851 Roger Brooke Drive
Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234

In spite of all the progress we have made and the good things that are happening in Iraq the bad guys are still out there and occasionally they get lucky. We lost three soldiers on the night of August 13 to an IED. As has been the pattern, we received rocket fire from near the village of Zagalbania a few of miles west of the FOB. We dispatched the quick reaction force (QRF) to locate the launch point and possibly intercept the perpetrators in the wadi system they use for cover. The QRF hit the IED on a dirt road about two miles from the front gate. It was triggered by homemade pressure switch made from a garden hose. As the HMMWV drove over the hose the pressure closed the switch detonating the IED under the vehicle.
SSG Asbury Hawn, SGT Shannon Taylor, and SPC Gary Reese, were killed in the blast.
Fortunately, SGT Kevin Downs was blown from the gunner’s hatch and survived. He received a broken arm, badly traumatized legs, and burns over most of his body. CPT Don Spradlin, the PA on the ambulance that responded, and the medics did a heroic job just to save SGT Downs. In the dark amid explosions from grenades and rounds cooking-off in the burning HMMWV they were able to find SGT Downs lying in a ditch where he had been blown and stabilize him.
CPT Spradlin repeatedly braved the explosions to go up and assess and then recover the other three soldiers lying near the burning vehicle.
Because of the excellent work of our doctors and medics SGT Downs will make it despite the devastating injuries that he received. I have enclosed an update on his recovery sent out by our family support groups. I believe it will show you what great people we have serving in Iraq.
I hope that you draw some inspiration from Kevin’s struggle and remember him as works towards recovery. This young man is particularly memorable to me because I carried him off of the ambulance and into the aid station that terrible night. Despite his extensive burns and injuries he was upbeat. As I helped pull his stretcher off of the ambulance he reminded me to unhook his IV bag from the stand in the back of the vehicle. In the urgency and chaos of the situation he remained calm enough to check the details that we were forgetting. He smiled through his burned and cracked skin as we carried him into the medic bunker and said in a jovial voice “Hi, what brings you guys here?”
His ability to deal with the horrific events of that night made me extremely proud and humble.
It also made me understand that we too must deal with the horrors that the insurgents try to inflict on us and not abandon the great work we are doing in Iraq. Like SGT Downs we have a long, difficult task yet ahead of us. However, the vast majority of Iraqis are with us and even leading the way now.
Please remember SGT Downs and perhaps send a card or letter.
He is a great young man that could probably use a little encouragement right now. Take care and I hope to see you soon.
Miles C. Smith
LTC, Cavalry
Executive Officer

9 October 18, 2005
I spoke with Mr. JD Downs yesterday for approx 30 minutes. He and Catherine are doing OK but are wearing
down as we can imagine. Their confidence and faith in Kevin’s recovery is enormous. Here are the highlights of
our conversation:
Kevin is doing pretty good but has developed traces of pneumonia and the doctors are keeping a very close eye
on this. The doctors have completed his temporary prosthetic devices and his stumps are completely closed.
Last Friday the nurses placed him on a “tilt table” so he can start to improve his equilibrium.
His arms are still wrapped in a soft cast and the dressing is changed daily. He has begun exercising his right arm and the wound in his left arm is closing slowly but surely – the hole is shrunk to the size of a straw. His trach hole has completely closed and he is talking, but with great difficulty. Because he has to be on his back all of the time he
has lots of pain and hurt on his back and bottom.
The other day the nurses placed him in a wheelchair and he cried and screamed out the pain was too much to take so as you would imagine his spirits and morale were down. He is still taking his meds and quite often receives double doses because the meds take too long to take effect. JD said the right side of Kevin’s face is healing fairly good and said it now looks like a real bad sun burn but the left side looked somewhat raw. He did lose a portion of his left upper ear but the docs said that was not a concern – they would build him a new ear if they had to. His hands are improving as his fingers have begun to get some color in them. They are still in wound bags and the pins are still in his fingers but the docs are more optimistic than ever. JD said in the next few weeks he may be required to use his right hand more but he still can not feed himself.
Kevin is still in ICU but JD described it as a “step down” from the typical ICU. Prior to this he had one nurse
monitoring him 24/7 but in his new room one nurse monitors 2 to 3 patients. It is still a sterile environment so
they wear suits and masks before going in and anything taken in the room must remain in the room. He is still
behind locked doors and a nurse has to let them in to visit. JD said the doctors want to try and let him come
home for a visit during Christmas.
The hospital will give the mail to JD and Catherine. In closing JD asked that each of us keep Kevin and all of the
service members in our prayers.
Mike Goodrich

Tanya Bush says:

Hello, I only want to say that even tho you have a long road ahead of you and it will with no doubt be a very painful one, please do not loose sight of the fact that you are loved and WE THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE ! I am the mothernlaw of a young soldier who was killed on Nov 2 2005 he left this world with a young wife (my daugher) and a baby son who turned 1yr only 5 short days after we lay Josh to rest. The WONDERFUL THING OF IT WAS… there was one Sgt. who lived, out of the 4 of them. Josh was driving the other two in the back and the Sgt. in the front. Now you ask how was that wonderful? If it were not for the Sgt. we would have no closeure we would have nothing to hold onto, we would have no hope and we would not have anyone left here on earth to love as a soldiers “ma” mothernlaw would want to do. But thank GOD WE HAVE COLLINS AND THANK GOD WE HAVE YOU !!!! Live your life as if there is not a day after, hold your family close, and hold God even closer you are a true GIFT FROM GOD ON THIS EARTH like Josh,Tyler,Benjamine, are in HEAVEN !! Step it up get back to it why because the family’s of the ones that went before us need your help sounds weird i know but just think, go deap into your heart you will understand in time what i am speaking of. If you ever need anything please let me know.
With All our FAMILY LOVE …Tanya “ma” spcmungermothernlaw@yahoo.com

Wild Thing says:

Hello Tanya thank you for commenting and for writing so beautifully how you feel. I am forever grateful for your sons service to our country. The debt I owe for my freedom can never be appreciated enough nor thanked enough to those who have fought and served our Nation.
Thank you Tanya for being the wonderful mom and grandmother that you are.