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Bagwell, injured in Iraq, faces long recovery

POSTED: May 13, 2008 5:00 a.m.
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Pvt. Nathon Bagwell

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It could take from six months to two years for a soldier from Hall County who was shot in Iraq to completely recover from his injuries, his mother said Friday.

Hearing what nurses say about Pvt. Nathon Bagwell’s responses to their requests, the soldier’s mother, Carolyn Bagwell says Friday was "the best report that I’ve had since ... this happened."

Nathon Bagwell, 24, was breathing on his own again Friday and his mother is finally getting some sleep. Bagwell is awaiting a Sunday flight to Washington, D.C., following a third surgery in Germany that repaired a shattered vertebra in his lower spine.

Bagwell, a 2003 graduate of East Hall High School, was breathing with the help of a ventilator as he recovered from the eight-hour surgery where doctors placed a steel rod in his back Thursday afternoon, Carolyn Bagwell, said.

Whether or not the gunshot wound he received in a small arms attack in Iraq caused any paralysis is still unknown.

Nathon Bagwell moved his arms and fingers Friday after regaining consciousness, but when nurses asked him to move his toes and his legs, Bagwell told his nurses that he was "tired of playing that game," his mother said Friday.

Carolyn Bagwell was happy to hear her son’s stubborn response, because to her it means her son is still the same old Nathon Bagwell she knew him to be.

"That sounds a lot like Nathon," said Carolyn Bagwell. "Like I told the nurse ... ‘you may not believe it but that’s the best news I’ve heard since he’s been to Germany.’ "

She said the reason Nathon Bagwell did not move his legs or toes "wasn’t because he couldn’t, he just didn’t."

The Gillsville woman said she imagines her son has been asked to move his legs, toes and fingers each time he has awakened from the three surgeries he endured this week, and as his mother, she can sympathize that "he’s tired of hearing these three demands."

"He’s kind of stubborn when he gets his mind set on something," she said.

Carolyn Bagwell had spoken to her son twice before Thursday’s surgery. Both times, Nathon Bagwell told his family that he loved them and he would see them when he returns to the U.S. But Carolyn Bagwell was anxious to have a real conversation with her son — something she has not had in more than a week. "I hope when he does call that ... I’ll actually be able to talk with him; instead of just basically hearing his voice, actually hold a conversation," she said. "If he’s in pain, I would still rather him sleep."

Nathon Bagwell was on a security mission Sunday, watching troops who were transporting a concrete barrier, in Sadr City, Iraq, when his platoon came under "small-arms fire," said Army Maj. Michael Humphreys.

During the incident, a bullet pierced the left side of his stomach, damaging his bowels and his left kidney before shattering a vertebra in his lower spine.

Since then, Carolyn Bagwell said she has received a lot of support from the community — something she said she’s grateful for during this difficult time.

Nathon Bagwell’s injury came five months into the soldier’s 15-month tour in Iraq, and three days after a Commerce native, Army Staff Sgt. Shaun J. Whitehead, was killed in Iraq. Whitehead, who was the same age as Nathon Bagwell, will be buried today in Commerce.



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