Learning to drive: In honor of Sgt. Michael Stafford of Shannon

By Kevin Wood/NEMS Daily Journal

Michael Stafford knows a thing or two about driving a golf ball down the fairway. He’s an accomplished golfer who regularly shoots par or close or to it. Last year, he finished second in the Warrior Open, a tournament hosted by former President George W. Bush.
Stafford also knows a thing or two about driving a tank and a hummer. From 1992 to 1999, he spent seven years in the National Guard as a tank commander in an M1A1 Abrams tank. He then re-enlisted in 2004 when several of his friends were activated as a part of the 155th Mississippi Heavy Brigade Combat Team. They deployed in March 2005 to take part in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
For the next five months, Sgt. Stafford was stationed in Iskandariyah, near the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad. He was a part of a security element that conducted house raids, seizing weapons and flushing out insurgents. His team also investigated IED-related accidents and deaths in the region.
On the night of Aug. 8, 2005, Stafford was driving a Humvee when his wheels hit an IED, blowing a hole in the vehicle. The explosion also tore off his leg at the left knee. As the vehicle burned and Iraqi insurgents fired on his crew from outside, Stafford continued to bleed from his wound. He knew he needed to tie it off if he was to survive. In the midst of the chaos and shock, Stafford fought to maintain his focus. Even though he lost more than half of his blood, somehow a tourniquet was applied to his injury, saving his life. To this day Stafford does not know who helped him.
Read the rest of Stafford’s story at www.40DaysofHonor.com.
Kevin Wood