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Wounded soldier makes surprise holiday visit


  “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this community’s support,” says Wes Farron

Above, Wes and Melanie Farron with their son, Asher. The 22-year-old Farron was injured while on active duty in Afghanistan in October. He spent over two months in a Texas hospital.

After surviving massive injuries during a firefight in Afghanistan in October, then spending two months in a Texas hospital recovering from the wounds, 22-year-old Wes Farron and his wife surprised family members by coming home for Christmas.

Throughout his ordeal, Farron said the support of his wife and family, along with the support of this community, helped pull him through.

“The sheer support I had from the town and the church – I had tons of people praying for me. Since I’ve been back, some people have said ‘hey’ to me and ‘thank you,’ and that means more to me than anything,” said Farron. “I don’t expect a thank you. Being a soldier is something I love doing. My family and Melanie’s family, I can’t thank them enough. That’s my main focus, family and the people who’ve supported us the whole way.”

Farron was with his unit on a mission going into a Taliban stronghold, defending a compound U.S. troops had taken over, when he was hit.

“We were fighting them from the compound, and the second day into the five-day mission we were attacked and surrounded,” Farron said. “I was on a rooftop on a static op with a sniper team. My sniper buddy and me were on a rooftop looking for targets when we were attacked. I got through half a magazine before I got hit. My buddies dragged me off the roof and took care of me for about 15 minutes before medevac was able to get to me.”

Farron was hit with a single bullet, he said, but that bullet did a lot of damage.

“It bounced around a good bit before it came out,” he said. “My kidney was hit, my liver and bile duct were hit, and my diaphragm and lung were hurt from the blunt trauma. When the bullet exited it broke two of my ribs.”

He is unsure exactly what type of bullet hit him, but, he said, the enemy tends to carry the AK47, and surgeons said that’s what the damage looked like.

“We were in Kandahar in the southernmost part of Afghanistan,” he said. “It’s really, really bad down there. From the time we got there in April, the fighting started in May. We were in firefights every other day. Sometimes they would last a long, long time - anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes to four or five hours, just on and off throughout the day. I think they say the fighting season’s supposed to stop in winter, but the guys I’ve talked to said they are still fighting even now.

“It does wear on you, but the guys you have with you is what keeps your sanity. Not only your country but the guy to the left and right of you. It’s a brotherhood. It’s a job, and I picked that job. I love it. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about the guys that are still there. I wish I could have stayed to finish out my term. I left early, and I constantly think about having to leave. But it is what it is.”

Farron was evacuated to the Kandahar airfield and then on to Germany for treatment. From Germany he was flown to San Antonio, Tx. on Oct. 18 and placed in Intensive Care. His wife arrived the next day. No one was allowed to touch him for a while, because he was quarantined to make sure he didn’t have any diseases caught in Afghanistan.

“I left when my son was two months old. They couldn’t bring him into ICU to see me. It was amazing when I did finally get to see him. He was so much bigger from when I had left,” Farron said. “I hated it, because all I wanted to do was hug him and play with him, but I couldn’t do that. He’s grown so much.”

Surgeons cut Farron open down his abdomen to do exploratory surgery. In the days after the surgery, hospital staff taught Farron’s wife Melanie how to dress the wound to keep it clean.

“My wife had to dress it every night. She had to do everything. She was incredible. She stayed with me the whole time. I always told her she had to take care of two babies.”

When his wife got the news he’d been shot, it was some time before she and his mother had any other news of his condition ––a nerve racking time, Mrs. Farron said. When she arrived in Texas and was finally able to see her husband, every possible emotion went through her.

“You’re happy, but your sad. The biggest thing for me was to finally just be able to look at him and touch him,” Melanie Farron said. “At the time, we weren’t supposed to touch him, because they were making sure he didn’t have anything. I asked one of the nurses, ‘Can I please just kiss him?’ I think that was the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life. That was amazing.”

Farron and Melanie had the support of other wounded soldiers while in Texas, he said, as several of his buddies from his unit were there as well. Since being deployed to Afghanistan on April 12 of this year, Farron said his unit lost 7 to 8 guys and another 20 to 25 soldiers wounded. His unit returns home to the United States this week.

Farron left Jasper earlier this week to report back to his unit at Fort Riley, Kans., where he will stay in a medical platoon there while he continues his recovery.

“I’m doing a lot better, obviously, than before. I have my days when I still struggle and get sick, but I’m recovering real well,” he said.

Farron said the support from local folks has made all the difference.

“I couldn’t believe how much support I had from the town,” he said. “I heard they mentioned me at the Veteran’s Day Parade. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. I got letters from Jasper Middle School from the Boys and Girls Club. I read all those letters, and they helped me so much motivation-wise while I was recovering.”

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