Meet Our Troops

The brave men and women of our military put their lives on the line in the service of their country. Most of us can hardly comprehend the magnitude of that dedication and sacrifice, yet our troops demonstrate this kind of valor every day. The Wounded Heroes Foundation is proud to have made a positive impact in the lives of some of these heroes. Please take a moment to meet a few of them.


Eric Edmundson -
SGT Eric Edmundson Age 26

Severely Wounded Hero with a wife and a little girl. Eric was seriously injured in Iraq when his Stryker vehicle was hit by an IED. His family is truly incredible and Eric's smile will melt your heart. Please click the following link to visit his site. www.caringbridge.org/visit/ericedmundson Eric is one of the many Wounded Heroes we're working to assist during his long road to recovery.

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Staff Sgt Gabe Garriga -
(ARMY) From Chicago IL Age 22

On July 14, 2003, just weeks after his unit was deployed to Iraq, Garriga was horribly injured while helping defend a checkpoint outside Baghdad. Sgt Garriga was manning the gun turret of a Humvee when his vehicle crashed and burst into flames. Garriga suffered second and third-degree burns over 45 percent of his body. Gabe's injuries were life-threatening and he was given a one percent chance of survival by his doctors. Gabe's recovery was extremely difficult. Gabe died three times during his recovery. He was nearly suffocated by his internal organs that had swollen due to the severity of his burns. While at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX, Gabe relearned how to sit up, walk, and breathe again. Sergeant Garriga beat the odds and is on the road to recovery. Gabe spent approximately 20 months at BAMC, undergoing 30 surgeries and months of indescribable pain. During that time Gabe worked for the hospital's public affairs division helping other soldiers recovering from their injuries. Gabe's spirit, heart, and sheer will to live is an inspiration to us all. The Wounded Heroes Foundation, with the assistance of numerous donations and the guidance from partner associations, has been able to provide Sgt Garriga with a home in Zion, IL.

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Sgt Tyler Ziegel -
(USMC) From Peoria IL Age 21

SGT Tyler Ziegel (Unit: 4th FSSG, Co C Engineers) was horribly injured when a suicide bomber detonated a car full of explosives. CPL Ziegel's injuries included third degree burns over his face, head and arms, a broken jaw, and shrapnel to the brain. He also suffered the loss of most of his nose, both ears, and the vision in his right eye. His left hand and three fingers on his right hand were amputated. After nearly 30 surgeries, Lance SGT Ziegel is credited with a miraculous recovery. His mom, Becky Ziegel, and his fianc�e, Renee, stayed by his side for the past 18 months as he's recovered. Ty and Renee are were married on October 7th, 2006.

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Sgt Dustin Hill 23 Army National Guard -
Wounded on September 21st, 2004

Sgt. Hill joined the Guard shortly after attending Annawan High School. He joined because all of his friends had enlisted and he thought the uniform looked "cool." He was eager to see the world, but after serving just six months in Iraq, his world was turned upside down by a suicide bomber. Sgt. Hill says he's alive today because of the heroics of his platoon. A third of Dusty body is covered in fourth-degree burns. His hands are gone and so is one eye and most of his right ear. His legs were also crushed.

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Sergeant Merlin German -
(USMC) Sgt. German, Manhattan, NY

Enlisted in the corp in September of 2003. Sgt. Germans received several promotions during his service. On 21 February 2005, Sergeant German's squad was on a mission to recon an unknown route from Jordan to Baghdad. While en route to Camp Ramadi, Sergeant German spotted an IED while standing in the turret at his Mk-19 machine gun. With no time to alert the driver, their HUMVEE was hit on a left side by a gas-fed shape charge explosive. Sergeant German was blown clear of the vehicle, and his fellow Marines helped extinguish the flames that had quickly burned 97% of his total body surface area. Sergeant German was immediately transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany where doctors stated Sergeant German had NO chance of living. He had a quick turn-around flight to the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio and he arrived on 25 February 2005. He was cared for as an inpatient for 17 months, and then resided as a guest of the Fisher House before purchasing his own home in San Antonio. He fought bravely for more than three years but died in the hospital on Friday, while recovering from his most recent operation. The Wounded Heroes Foundation provided grants to Merlin & his family and visited with him at BAMC. Sgt. German will always be in our thoughts and prayers. For more information, please click the following link; www.merlinsmiracles.com

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Army Spec Bryan Anderson -
411th Military Police Wounded Oct 23, 2005

Bryan Anderson was the fourth U.S. soldier to lose 3 limbs in Iraq; now his doctor cites his rehabilitation as an inspiration to others Army Spec. Bryan Anderson never saw the roadside bomb waiting for his Humvee in Baghdad. Hidden within a concrete curb, it detonated just as his vehicle passed, shredding the soldier's legs and left arm with shrapnel. "I was conscious the whole time," said Anderson, of Rolling Meadows. "I called out, `I need help!'" On that October day, Anderson, 24, became the fourth American serviceman to lose three limbs in the Iraq war. Anderson's right hand, on his only remaining limb, was mangled in the blast. He also had abdominal injuries and a collapsed lung.Two months later--and just in time for the holidays--he was out of the hospital and vigorously had begun the physical therapy that would have him walking again soon on artificial legs. He still shows the spunk he learned as a Rolling Meadows High School gymnast, amazing his relatives, friends and caregivers with his grit and determination.

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LCPL Kenneth Carleton-Smith -
USMC Age 21 Wounded in Combat Sep 28,2005 and Oct 31, 2005

On Sept. 28, 2005, LCPL Kenneth Carleton-Smith and his platoon were holding a position at an intersection when we came under small arms fire. His vehicle was taking a majority of the fire and even had a couple RPG fired at it. As LCPL Carleton-Smith was moving from the back-left to the front-left of the truck, an RPG shot through the bottom of the right side of the truck, broke apart on the undercarriage and the tailfin assembly struck him on his left shin. On Oct 31, 2005, LCPL Carleton-Smith was injured a second time, during combat operations in Ar Ramadi Iraq while escorting a convoy for Golf Company to the western portion of the city. As he and his platoon exited their old compound they were forced to drive up onto the curb to avoid an oncoming Army patrol. As they neared the curb they were hit by a large IED, made most likely with (2) 155mm shells. The blast ripped through the rear left door injuring 2 other Marines and LCPL Carleton-Smith. Kenny had internal injuries and lost most his calf muscle on one leg.

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