Wounded Soldier Re-enlists in Hospital Bed 'Down Range'
March 28, 2007
BALAD, Iraq (Army News Service, March 28, 2007) - To hear Staff Sgt. Andrew S. McMann tell it, being sent to the Air Force Theater Hospital here simply gave him the free time he needed to re-enlist.
He didn't mention the real reason he was in the hospital: that he'd just survived an IED explosion 48 hours before raising his right hand.
McMann, a squad leader with Company B, 321st Engineer Battalion, was leading 1st Platoon on a route clearance mission in the Adolous District of Ramadi on March 23 when the IED went off directly under his vehicle.
"Everyone walked away and I only ended up with a broken foot," he said, crediting his crew's survival to God. "He was looking out for us that day."
One of his first actions after waking up in the hospital was to have officials contact the Army Reserve retention office. While waiting at the 332nd Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility before being sent to Germany for further treatment, McMann signed up for another three years of service.
"The Army's been good to me," the 27-year-old said. "It's given me a chance to be part of something bigger than myself."
His company commander, Maj. Michael Trofinoff, pointed out that prior to McMann being wounded in action, a different vehicle was hit by an explosive device during the same convoy. McMann supervised the evacuation of a wounded soldier and the recovery of the vehicle, he said.
"He's an outstanding Soldier," Trofinoff said. "He's selfless - always thinking of others before himself."
McMann, who is from Kennewick, Wash., first enlisted in the Army in 2002. His father had served in the Army as a helicopter crew chief in Vietnam and the younger McMann had already considered signing up. Then Sept. 11 occurred.
"As soon as those attacks happened, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of," he said. "I wanted to serve."
A recent newlywed at the time, McMann said his wife understood the risks. "She's been supportive ever since," he said.
In his civilian life, McMann is a member of the special response team that protects nuclear facilities for the Department of Energy. His Army unit arrived in Iraq in October and he became eligible to re-enlist just two days before he was wounded.
He said he had already planned to sign up again, but had been on missions constantly since returning from leave.
"This break in the hospital is the first time I've had to sign my contract," McMann said.
He praised the work of his fellow Soldiers, whose mission involves hunting explosive devices and clearing the routes for coalition forces in western Iraq.
"Most of the time we're a lot more successful than what it appears here," McMann said, gesturing to his bandaged feet. "They do a heck of a job out there."
Trofinoff said this isn't the first time McMann has placed the mission first. In December, he was riding in the lead vehicle and suffered a concussion when it was hit by an IED. Five minutes later, another IED hit the convoy's Buffalo armored vehicle and he dismounted to supervise its recovery.
The company commander said McMann was acting as platoon sergeant for 1st Platoon, which has uncovered 79 IEDs since starting their mission - the second highest in the company. The unit is based out of Hayden Lake, Idaho.
Trofinoff said knowing McMann, he was not surprised he would re-enlist after being wounded, but it was an impressive act. "That is definitely an indication of his selfless service and his commitment to the team," he said.
Staff Sgt. Dwight Henderson, the Army Reserve career counselor who prepared the paperwork for McMann's re-enlistment, said someone signing back up after being wounded is unusual.
"I'm just impressed with him," Henderson said. "If you wanted to put a picture on Army values, it would probably be that guy." McMann said his wife will understand about his signing on again, because she knows this is something he likes to do. He is glad he won't ever have to look back and wish he had served.
In fact, he said he was hoping to get his feet fixed and get back to the fight "as soon as I can." "I'm doing my best to leave this place better than when I got here," he said.
(Staff Sgt. Gary A. Witte writes for the 13th Sustainment Command.)