The news of two Fort Wainwright soldiers injured and one killed in a suicide bomber’s blast in Iraq on Tuesday hit close to home for a Nikiski mother.
Chris Bauer, 23, of Nikiski, was seriously injured when a suicide bomber detonated himself near Bauer while he was on foot out of his Stryker vehicle as part of a dismounted patrol in Rawah, Iraq.
“I was scared to death when I got the call,” said his mother, Joan Bauer, of Nikiski, in regard to the call she received earlier this week from Army officials.
“They didn’t give me any details. All they said was he was seriously injured, and the injuries were to his head and face,” she added.
She later learned after calling the 800 number the Army left that her son was one of the lucky ones.
Of the two other soldiers involved in the blast, Kenneth Hess, 22, of Asheville, N.C., was killed and a third soldier was seriously injured. The third soldier’s name has not yet been released, but this soldier is being treated in the same hospital as Bauer, the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.
All three soldiers were from Fort Wainwright, assigned to the 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.
Bauer was born in Anchorage, attended grade school in Kenai and high school in Nikiski before joining the Army in 2001. He is serving his second tour of duty in Iraq.
Chris Bauer, with the 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, rests while stationed in Mosul, Iraq. Bauer, from Nikiski, was in Mosul from fall 2005 to January 2006, and later was stationed in Rawah, Iraq, where he was injured in a suicide bombing Tuesday.
Photo courtesy of Joan Bauer
Joan Bauer said her son is recovering quickly following a CAT scan, an MRI and having his facial lacerations sutured.
“His face is swollen. They sewed up his facial lacerations and they had to leave a couple pieces of shrapnel in, but he’s doing fine,” she said.
Bauer also has black eyes from the pressure of the explosion against the goggles he was wearing.
Joan said her son is scheduled to leave the hospital within a week, but she’s not sure if he will return to the U.S. or be sent back to Iraq to serve out the remainder of his enlistment, which is scheduled to end in August.
If given the choice, Joan would love to have her son home she said, but added, “It’s his life and it’s what he loves the traveling, the camaraderie and being in the Army.”
Regardless of where he gets sent, Joan said she will continue to do what she has always done.
“I pray almost every day for his protection,” she said.
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