By Charmain Z. BrackettDecember 11, 2007
FORT GORDON, Ga. (Army News Service, Dec. 11, 2007) -- First Sgt. Michael Christ wears two bracelets on his arm so he'll never forget.
One has the name of two Soldiers, Spc. Robert Johnson and Sgt. Nathan Fields who were killed in Iraq in January 2006; the other is in memory of Spc. Derek Plowman who died on July 20, 2006.
"Robert and Nathan were special," said Christ, who is a patient in the active duty rehab unit at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center. "Robert always had a smile, and Nathan always had a joke."
The men were part of his unit.
Christ, a native of Brooklyn, N.Y., has 31 years in the military - a combination of active duty and Army Reserves.
One of seven children, Christ decided the military could provide him a good life.
"I've gotten to go to all kinds of places in the world. Some don't exist anymore. I've traveled everywhere," he said. "I've been to South and Central America, Europe, Afghanistan."
In October 2006, just before his unit was ready to pull out of Iraq, Christ was involved in a mortar and artillery attack.
"I wrapped my leg around a concrete wall," said Christ who was trying to get under cover at the time.
His leg didn't seem to be hurt too badly, but when he returned stateside he had problems with it.
"It kept going out," he said.
His knee had been crushed, and the cartilage was gone.
Christ had surgery at Fort Benning, Ga., Doctors put a steel plate in his leg and grafted bone from his pelvis. During his recovery, he developed a severe staph infection in his leg.
"I'm still on antibiotics," he said.
Christ, who lives in Buford, Ga., said he will probably be at the V.A. until January or February, but it will take eight months to a year for the leg to completely heal.
Christ hopes for a full recovery and a return to service.
"It's up to the Army," he said. "I'm up for sergeant major. I'd like to at least go for it. I've given 31 years of my life. I'm not ready to give up yet...It would be nice to see if I can make sergeant major. It wasn't about rank. It was always about the Soldiers and taking care of the troops."