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Messages from home


Patty Phelps, of Rathdrum, packs gift boxes Wednesday  for Brandon Adam, a Sandpoint soldier who lost his legs in an explosion two weeks ago in Iraq. 
 (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
Patty Phelps, of Rathdrum, packs gift boxes Wednesday for Brandon Adam, a Sandpoint soldier who lost his legs in an explosion two weeks ago in Iraq. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

The 21-year-old Sandpoint soldier who lost his legs in an explosion in Iraq this month doesn’t yet know the extent of support from folks back home.

U.S. Army Sgt. Brandon Adam remains in the intensive care unit of a Texas military hospital, where he has undergone several surgeries to stabilize injuries suffered during a month of violence that killed nine Northwest soldiers.

Adam was alert enough to participate in an informal ceremony at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston this week, where he was awarded a Purple Heart.

But Adam’s father said the young man has yet to comprehend the flood of cards and letters sent by people throughout the Inland Northwest, which will be a crucial support in the tough days ahead.

“Those are letters that will bring healing,” Doug Adam said by telephone Wednesday. “They have their purpose.”

About the only thing that would be more helpful, honestly, he added, would be direct financial contributions to a fund to ensure the young soldier’s future.

“Essentially, Brandon just wants his legs back on so that he can get back to his unit,” the father said.

It remains uncertain, however, whether or when Brandon Adam will be able to be fitted with artificial limbs. Some doctors have said the chances aren’t good because of the extent of the soldier’s injuries – although that’s a prognosis Doug Adam flatly rejects.

“I watched a bilateral amputee walking with his wife and baby today,” he said. “Don’t tell me ‘no.’ ”

Just the same, Brandon’s family is concerned about what lies ahead for the soldier who enlisted as a teenager in the days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, recently signed up for a third duty tour, and expected to spend his career serving his country.

He was a combat engineer with the 2nd Infantry and was expecting to be transferred to Fort Lewis when he returned from Iraq.

“I just looked at my kid, and I want to fix it so that when I’m dead and gone, I want to know that he’s not going to be living on the street,” Doug Adam said.

So far, the outpouring of support from community members has been heartwarming, said Patty Phelps, of Rathdrum, who volunteered to organize contributions.

In a coincidence, her son Capt. Bryan Phelps has been a charge nurse caring for Brandon Adam at Brooke.

“The response has been overwhelming; you can’t imagine,” said Patty Phelps, who has fielded at least 50 phone calls and received dozens of cards, letters and gifts. (She also wants people to know she’s getting caught up on calls as quickly as possible.)

A group of women in Athol plans to make a quilt. Someone else donated gift packs of huckleberry syrup and other huckleberry treats to give the soldier a taste of home. Patty Phelps’ son Josh Phelps, a first baseman for the New York Yankees, sent a cap from his famous team.

Still others have donated school supplies that Brandon Adam’s unit can distribute to children in Iraq.

The gestures are appreciated, said Doug Adam, a house painter who now lives in Post Falls. He and his wife, Karen, are staying in government-provided lodgings, living on a stipend of about $50 a day.

Their church, Real Life Ministries, has stepped in to cover many of their expenses while they’re with Brandon.

But it’s just now dawning on everyone what it will take to support their son – and all of the other soldiers.

“Brandon is honored to step in the boots of men who’ve come before him and keep on walking,” Doug Adam said.

Community members back home would do well to reciprocate that honor, he said.

“No matter what you think about the war, take your personal ideas or whatever and put them aside,” he said.

“These guys need our support.”

 

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