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Wounded Guardsman Returns to Duty After Convalescence
Special to American Forces Press Service ^ | March 15, 2004 | By Master Sgt. Bob Haskell, USA

Posted on 03/15/2004 10:57:03 AM PST by Calpernia

Staff Sgt. Matt Hayden was reasonably sure in early March that he could be home in Rhode Island instead of pulling military police duties here, near the capital city of Doha, where he was completing his year of active duty as a National Guard soldier helping to fight the global war against terrorism.

Hayden figured the three wounds he received when a rocket-propelled grenade exploded about 10 feet from him Aug. 5, 2003, in Iraq probably were severe enough so he would not have had to spend the winter in this small country beside the Persian Gulf.

But that is not Matt Hayden's style. He is a former Marine who was determined to uphold his personal honor and the good name of the National Guard in one of the world's most dangerous regions.

"I probably could have milked it and said I was all done. I probably could have stayed in Rhode Island after I had finished my convalescent leave. But I had to get back to my guys," said the 3rd Platoon squad leader in the Rhode Island Army Guard's 115th Military Police Company from Cranston.

So the man with the Purple Heart reported here Nov. 12 to complete his yearlong tour with the 150 or so other members of his outfit, who also have learned some harsh lessons about how terrorists wage war.

Three of the115's soldiers have been killed in Iraq during this past year, and many others have had to deal with their own fears of fire. Some have been ambushed from rooftops while conducting a presence patrol through a market place in Fallujah – in the deadly Sunni Triangle north of Baghdad.

Some have taken fire while escorting military convoys. That is how Staff Sgt. Joseph Camara, 40, and Sgt. Charles Caldwell, 38, were killed Sept. 1 when an improvised explosive device, "a rigged 155 mm shell," Hayden said, struck their vehicle.

Spc. Michael Andrade, 28, died from injuries sustained in a vehicle accident in Balad on Sept. 24.

They will be honored again for making the ultimate sacrifice around Memorial Day in late May.

"Mikey always had a smile on his face. Nothing ever got him down," said Sgt. 1st Class Edward Rose about the young guardsman from Bristol, who was listed among the National Guard's 48 Operation Iraqi Freedom casualties, as of late February.

Hayden was 34 on Aug. 5, when he came as close to dying as he cares to contemplate.

He had been a Marine at Camp Pendleton, Calif., from 1986 to 1991. He had been a campus security officer at Johnson and Wales University in Providence for four years. He had never come under fire until nearly 10 years after he joined the Rhode Island Guard in 1994 to get into police work.

Hayden was among about a dozen U.S. soldiers who came under attack at about 3 p.m. that day at the Fallujah police station, where U.S. troops were delivering small arms to the local police officials and where maintenance people were checking out nine confiscated trailer-trucks, Hayden said.

One RPG knocked out the power when it hit a transformer about a mile away, he recalled. Terrorists opened up on the station soon afterward, just as he was coming outside.

Debris from the grenade that exploded just a few yards from him gouged a hole in his left hand, tore away part of a steel plate in the back of his body armor and ripped into the back of his right knee.

"My hand was steaming. It really hurt," said Hayden, who recalled that the pavement was unbearably hot, as was that afternoon.

Other Guard soldiers came to his rescue.

"I was yelling for a medic, but I couldn't hear myself," Hayden recalled. "Cpl. Scott Keegan ran over to help me. He saved my life. Spc. Richard Gaudet fired at the terrorists with his 9 mm pistol, because he didn't have time to get his automatic weapon off the humvee. Sgt. Mike Pellegrino fired a couple of grenades at the RPG location and then laid down suppressing fire with his automatic weapon."

The 20 or 30 minutes from when he was hit until he was trucked away from the police station seemed to last forever, Hayden said. Then he had to deal with the possibility of losing his wounded leg.

Hayden, who still has a few pieces of shrapnel in his body, acknowledged he was lucky. None of his vital organs or major nerves or tendons was hit, and he figures he is about 95 percent recovered after undergoing surgery four times in Iraq and in Germany and at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. The last location, Walter Reed, is where Vice President Richard Cheney gave Hayden the Purple Heart.

Doctors cut muscle from his calf and took a skin graft from his upper thigh to repair his knee. Medical people told him it could take him up to a year to fully recover. Hayden proved them wrong and passed a physical fitness test, including a two-mile run, to rejoin his unit a little more than three months after his injuries.

Yes, he is ready to go home again – when his entire company returns to Rhode Island in late March or early April. He hopes to begin training at the Rhode Island Municipal Police Academy in August.

Hayden and Rose insisted they harbor no regrets about their personal experiences. "I wish that Mikey and Todd and Joey were back," said Rose of their comrades who were killed. "We'll all remember them forever. But we're all soldiers who were called by our country to do a job. We did the best that we could."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: doha; military; mp; nationalguard; police; rhodeisland; sgthayden; wot; wounds

Rhode Island Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Matt Hayden and Sgt. 1st Class Edward Rose, members of the 115th Military Police Company, are completing their year of Operation Iraqi Freedom duty in Qatar after enduring their share of hazardous duty in Iraq.

1 posted on 03/15/2004 10:57:04 AM PST by Calpernia
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To: MJY1288; Calpernia; Grampa Dave; anniegetyourgun; Ernest_at_the_Beach; BOBTHENAILER; Jessamine; ...
Pro Military News

Rhode Island Army National Guard Staff Sgt. Matt Hayden and Sgt. 1st Class Edward Rose, members of the 115th Military Police Company, are completing their year of Operation Iraqi Freedom duty in Qatar after enduring their share of hazardous duty in Iraq.

Private Mail to be added to or removed from the GNFI (or Pro-Coalition) ping list.

2 posted on 03/15/2004 10:58:17 AM PST by Calpernia (http://members.cox.net/classicweb/Heroes/heroes.htm)
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To: Calpernia
"But I had to get back to my guys,"

John Kerry, what about you?

3 posted on 03/15/2004 10:58:30 AM PST by MarkeyD (<a href="http://www.johnkerry.com/about/">Three Paper Cuts and I'm Out</a>)
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To: Calpernia
Bump!
4 posted on 03/15/2004 11:04:04 AM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Calpernia
He is a former Marine

I'll bet he hates wearing that little round hat.

Seriously, this guy mkaes me proud.

5 posted on 03/15/2004 11:06:28 AM PST by Britton J Wingfield
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To: Britton J Wingfield
Once a Marine, always a Marine. The guy looks like a little Hulk. What happens to people that email stuff like this to Senators?
6 posted on 03/15/2004 11:09:38 AM PST by 7thson (I think it takes a big dog to weigh a 100 pounds.)
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To: Calpernia
Staff Sgt. Matt Hayden is truly a man of honor. I salute him.
7 posted on 03/15/2004 11:22:36 AM PST by armyboy (Posting from Sustainer Army Airfield Balad, Iraq. All Gave Some...Some Gave All. 52 more days!)
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To: Calpernia
How proud this makes me. In his devotion he honors us all.
8 posted on 03/15/2004 11:26:50 AM PST by OldFriend (Always understand, even if you remain among the few)
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To: Calpernia

115th Military Police Company

RHODE ISLAND

ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

118th Engineer Crest

Staff Sgt. Matt Hayden

Thank you!

 


9 posted on 03/15/2004 11:40:16 AM PST by Ragtime Cowgirl ("(We)..come to rout out tyranny from its nest. Confusion to the enemy." - B. Taylor, US Marine)
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To: Calpernia
We are winning ~ the bad guys are losing ~ trolls, terrorists, democrats and the mainstream media are sad ~ very sad!

~~ Bush/Cheney 2004 ~~

10 posted on 03/15/2004 12:19:48 PM PST by blackie (Be Well~Be Armed~Be Safe~Molon Labe!)
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To: Old Sarge
AWESOME GUARD STORY PING!!

HOOAH!!
11 posted on 03/15/2004 2:45:13 PM PST by StarCMC (God protect the 969th in Iraq and their Captain, my brother...God protect them all!)
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To: Calpernia
You may be right Calpernia, we have a "new" kind of Brit, than we did during WWII. The "youngsters" of England, just as those in America, with the exception of a few, do not have the backbone of their grandfathers and some of their fathers and mothers who put communism to rest, before the "youngsters" were born. Tis a shame.......but then we did allow the communists to rule, as we can see in our universities and ole broadbeam, kerry, and those socialists in the democrat party, who we pay to represent us in congress and the senate.
12 posted on 03/15/2004 6:17:47 PM PST by tillacum (President Bush and our Military will defeat the terrorists.)
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To: Calpernia
C

13 posted on 03/15/2004 6:21:14 PM PST by Fiddlstix (This Space Available for Rent or Lease by the Day, Week, or Month. Reasonable Rates. Inquire within.)
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To: aShepard; BREWS-AND-BLUES; BRYAN-USMC; chemist; Franklin Raff; got_moab?; heylady; hot4teacher; ...
ping!

Please FReepmail me if you want on or off my infrequent Rhode Island ping list.

14 posted on 03/19/2004 9:20:47 AM PST by nutmeg (Why vote for Bush? Imagine Commander in Chief John Fin al-Qerry)
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To: Art C in Rhode Island; Warrior Nurse
ping!
15 posted on 03/19/2004 9:23:46 AM PST by nutmeg (Why vote for Bush? Imagine Commander in Chief John Fin al-Qerry)
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To: RaceBannon; scoopscandal; 2Trievers; LoneGOPinCT; Rodney King; sorrisi; MrSparkys; monafelice; ...
Heroes from next-door Rhode Island ping!

Please Freepmail me if you want on or off my infrequent Connecticut ping list.

16 posted on 03/19/2004 9:30:00 AM PST by nutmeg (Why vote for Bush? Imagine Commander in Chief John Fin al-Qerry)
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To: airforce19811985; American; antiliberal; Aquinasfan; Arioch7; AStack75; awestk; bd56; betty boop; ..
Hero from next-door Rhode Island ping!

Please Freepmail me if you want on or off my infrequent Massachusetts ping list.

17 posted on 03/19/2004 9:33:58 AM PST by nutmeg (Why vote for Bush? Imagine Commander in Chief John Fin al-Qerry)
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To: nutmeg
Thanks for the ping BTT
18 posted on 03/19/2004 9:40:06 AM PST by Warrior Nurse (Black liberals practice intellectual apartheid when in comes to black conservatives!)
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To: Calpernia
Kerry bugged out after 4 months.
19 posted on 03/19/2004 9:44:43 AM PST by cynicom
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To: Calpernia
I have a feeling that when all is said and done from this war, the proportionality of a state's population vs. the number of KIA/WIA is going to have Little Rhody at the top.
20 posted on 03/19/2004 11:29:16 AM PST by Snickersnee (Where are we going? And what's with this handbasket???)
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