Injured soldier from Shannon returns home

By Jennifer Farish

Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

Today, a Shannon soldier who served in Iraq with the 155th Brigade Combat Team will fulfill a promise he made to his church right after he was injured.

Sgt. Michael Stafford's message to his Doty Chapel Baptist Church came in mid-August less than 24 hours after he was injured when a roadside bomb exploded by his convoy Aug. 8.

Through a hospital nurse, Stafford said to tell his church that he is coming home.

Today, members of the church, along with area veterans, will greet the soldier's arrival at the Tupelo Regional Airport.

Stafford, a 33-year-old father of two, lost his left leg in the roadside blast and has been recovering at Walter Reed Veterans Regional Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

In a letter to Stafford's fellow troops, his wife, Jessica, said her husband is recovering well. He even sank a 45-foot putt during a golf game as part of his therapy.

Stafford, a member of the 198th Armor Company B, is the son of Bobby and Hilda Stafford of Palmetto. When not serving as a full-time soldier, Stafford works at Lauderdale-Hamilton Inc. in Shannon.

Hurricane-affected soldiers

Lt. Col. John Rhodes, who leads the 155th Infantry First Battalion, said the regular vacation schedule has resumed after a change to allow soldiers affected by Hurricane Katrina to return home.

“Due to the hurricane, our regular leave plan had to be modified; however, we are now back on schedule,” he said in a letter. “Although slightly delayed, all of our soldiers should be able to take leave.”

Though constantly rotating soldiers out of Iraq for their vacation time, Rhodes said the battalion continues to find insurgents and large weapons caches.

This past week, the battalion uncovered more than 400 artillery rounds in a location being used by insurgents.

“It took our Explosive Ordnance Detachment a full day to dispose of the artillery rounds,” he said.

The soldier successfully detained one insurgent at the site who was trying to get materials to make a bomb. Another nine insurgents were detained on suspicion of other terrorist-related actions.

Contact Jennifer Farish at 281-1069 or jennifer.farish@djournal.com