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Man saw ‘horrible’ carnage during service

Veteran, wife given new home in Tennessee

As a flight medic, Sterling native Adam Montavon saw a lot of blood in his 9 years in the Army. So much that he is medically retired from the service.

Earlier this month, Montavon and his wife, Sasha Vasquez Montavon, also from Sterling, were selected to receive a remodeled foreclosure house in Clarksville, Tenn. The donation was well publicized in Nashville’s media.

The gift was made possible through the efforts of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency and Operation Finally Home, a group that helps wounded and disabled veterans get homes.

The Montavons will have no mortgage.

A 2002 Sterling High School graduate, Montavon was deployed to Afghanistan twice. When he returned from Afghanistan the last time, he was diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder.

“I have other medical issues,” the 30-year-old said in a telephone interview. “My back was destroyed.”

Montavon is the son of Margie Catalanello of LaSalle and Jeff Montavon of Dixon. He is the grandson of Rose and PJ O’Brien and Jim and Janet Montavon, all of whom live in this area.

Being a flight medic comes with particularly high risks, he said. The Taliban would explode bombs with the intent to hurt people, not kill them, with the hope they would bring American medics to the rescue, he said.

“They were trying to get our aircraft out there, then they would ambush us,” Montavon said. “They’ll put IEDs there, waiting for us to land.”

His worst day, he said, was when Afghan children were playing soccer on the street and set off a bomb that resulted in “horrible” carnage.

Montavon had to make split-second decisions about who to take care of first – every second counts. He was interviewed in the documentary “Kandahar 911: Saving Lives Under Fire.”

“We’ll do whatever it takes to get those guys off the ground,” he said in the documentary. “We know we’re going to get shot at.”

In high school, Montavon was on the swimming team. He described himself as shy and timid then. His closest friends were twins Adam and Michael Commisso, the sons of Jeff and Martha Commisso.

“I spent a huge part of my life at their house,” Montavon said. “We were best friends since our first days in kindergarten. They are family to me.”

He is attending Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, where he is studying biology, with a concentration in zoology. He volunteers at a local zoo.

He said he likes living in Tennessee.

“I love Sterling because it’s my hometown,” he said. “But I’m a very outdoors person. It’s mountains everywhere here.”

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