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Injured soldier receives gift

Mother says he’s lucky to be alive

(Alex T. Paschal/apaschal@saukvalley.com)
David Ludens, vice president of the Dixon VFW’s men’s auxiliary, thanks 25-year-old Army Spc. Michael Shoemaker Saturday afternoon at the post. The auxiliary presented Shoemaker with a computer desk and chair for his service and sacrifice. The Eldena soldier was injured in an explosion March 29 while loading an ammunition truck in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He suffered severe head injuries and hurt his right leg, arm and hand. His vision and hearing also were affected.

DIXON – Army Spc. Michael Shoemaker Jr. of Eldena says he doesn’t know why everyone was worried after he suffered injuries in an explosion last year.

He seems fine now, but that’s a far cry from the days after the explosion.

On March 29, he was loading an ammunition truck in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when an explosion left him with severe head injuries and hurt his right leg, arm and hand. His vision and hearing also were affected.

Five other soldiers were injured and one was killed in the blast.

In the days after the explosion, he was barely responsive. But he began to bounce back.

Shoemaker, who is stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., has been in town the last few days. On Saturday, he accepted a computer desk and chair from the men’s auxiliary at VFW Post 540.

David Ludens of the auxiliary shook Shoemaker’s hand.

“I hope everything works for you,” Ludens said. “We appreciate everything you’ve done for the country.”

Shoemaker’s father, Michael Shoemaker Sr., thanked the VFW “for everything you’ve done.” The soldier’s mother, Sandra Shoemaker, teared up. She asked to take a photo of VFW members with her son, telling them she planned to post it on Facebook.

After the brief ceremony, Shoemaker, 25, who was wearing fatigues, said he was in the process of leaving the military for medical reasons related to his injuries.

He said he would like to transfer to the warrior transition battalion in Moline, but the paperwork is taking awhile.

He is recovering, so he is not working, he said. He said he has to report to the Army “to show them I’m still alive.”

It’s hard to tell that Shoemaker suffered major injuries less than a year ago. Asked how he felt Saturday, he said he was “good overall.”

While he said he wasn’t sure why everyone was so worried last year, his mother said it was entirely justified.

“It was pretty bad,” she said. “He is very lucky to be alive. We are very blessed.”

Benefit planned

A parade for Army Spc. Michael Shoemaker Jr., who was injured in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when ammunition exploded, is planned for 10 a.m. July 13. It will go through Dixon and end at VFW Post 540, 1560 Franklin Grove Road.

As part of the Welcome Home Wounded Warrior event at the VFW, children's activities will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with face-painting, clowns and a jumping balloon. From 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. will be a benefit for Shoemaker, including live bands, 50-50 tickets, silent auction, bake sale and raffles. Admission will be $10 per adult, $15 per couple, and free for children 12 and younger. Donations for the silent auction are being accepted.

For more information, call Shoemaker's mother, Sandra Shoemaker, 815-703-2548.


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