Injured soldier improves, typing on computer

DIXON – Army Spc. Michael Shoemaker Jr. of Lee County, injured in an explosion a couple of weeks ago, is having a turnaround in his recovery.

In the last few days, the 23-year-old Amboy High School graduate has been typing on his iPad. He has sat on the side of his bed.

He has been having speech difficulties, but he said “Mom” pretty clearly four times, his mother, Sandra Shoemaker, of Eldena, reported in a Facebook post earlier this week. He also said “I love you” to his wife, Brittany Shoemaker.

Shoemaker, who is at Walter Reed Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., has been seeing therapists, including one for speech.

“We still have a very long way to go in Michael’s recovery, but he is making progress daily,” his mother wrote.

His sister, Jenny Karlson, agreed.

“He’s typing rapidly. The typing for us has been really great to see,” said Karlson, who lives in Rockford. “It seems to take a lot of work for him to speak.”

Shoemaker was in surgery most of the day Thursday, Karlson said. Doctors were operating on his leg.

Last week, his wife posted a photo of him on Facebook. At the time, he was in a drug-induced coma and rarely opened his eyes. He had a feeding tube and a few bruises on his face.

The Facebook page devoted to his recovery now has more than 1,500 members.

Shoemaker is with the 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, N.C. He suffered severe injuries to his right arm and both legs, and doctors had to remove metal debris from his head, the family said.

One soldier, 20-year-old David Taylor, was killed in the explosion March 29, and six others, including Shoemaker, were injured. They were moving ammunition at an ammunition supply depot when some rounds exploded, the military said.

Shoemaker, who was deployed to Afghanistan in February, has served in Iraq before.

He is the father of three.

On Dec. 28, Lance Cpl. Adam Devine, 21, a Marine from Dixon, was wounded in an IED explosion. He lost both legs from above the knees.

To help

Click here to make contributions online to the family of Michael Shoemaker Jr. A button for “Big Help” also is on the saukvalley.com home page.

• An account has been set up at Midland States Bank to help the family. Midland has branches in Dixon, Rock Falls, Sterling and Oregon.