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"If someone else had gotten hurt, I couldn’t have taken that. I mean, I’m happy to be the guy that got hurt, because those are my soldiers, my kids. I didn’t want them to get hurt." (Video Interview, 58:56)

   Eric Wayne Cagle
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Eric Cagle [2006]
War: Iraq War, 2003-2011; Operation Joint Guardian, 1999-
Branch: Army; Army
Unit: 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment
Service Location: Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; Iraq; also: Kosovo
Rank: Staff Sergeant
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Eric Cagle enlisted in the Army in 1998 at 18 and by 2004, when he was sent to Iraq, he had already done tours of duty in Serbia and Afghanistan. On a day he was supposed to be on leave—he’d lost the time to another soldier—he was on a routine patrol in a Humvee when an IED exploded, leaving him with severe head injuries. He has nothing but praise for the treatment he received from the VA, from Walter Reed to the brain injury recovery unit in Palo Alto. During his recovery, he visited his old base at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii, where he was surprised to find that a gymnasium had been named the Eric W. Cagle Muscle Factory.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (7 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (60 min.)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (7 items)
At Ft. Campbell, Kentucky, on 9/11; personal reaction; base locked down. (01:15) Part of a Rapid Deployment Force; sent to Kosovo with a month's warning for peacekeeping operations; finding corpses in a tree as a result of a land mine explosion; support from his parents for his decision to join the Army. (03:59) Shipping out to Afghanistan; equipment left before they did; briefing on Afghanistan's history; first impression of Pakistan, where they landed: heat and dirt; communicating back home by phone; brought his own laptop and used e mail; receiving packages from home. (05:18)
In Iraq, advising other troops on how to build defensive positions; interacting with civilians; passing out food; population not appreciative of their efforts. (01:05) Typical day in country; frequent patrols; looking for people laying mines; down time in gym, watching movies; living conditions reasonably comfortable; in charge of making sure trucks were running. (05:14) Supposed to be on leave on the day he was injured but his R&R time was given to someone else; on a routine patrol in an armored Humvee; IED exploded next to his vehicle; doesn't remember but was told he got out of truck to check on his men; they noticed he was bleeding and he passed out; first woke up in Walter Reed; couldn’t move his limbs and couldn't speak, so he was afraid; went to clinic in Minnesota for therapy; retired from military; praise for VA's treatment; in Palo Alto for further treatment in brain injury recovery unit; can't drive; plans to use GI Bill to get an education; suggests VA not keep patients in hospital rooms for long stretches, offer them independent living; keeps in touch with buddies, who are in Hawaii, where the Army has named a gym after him at Schofield Barracks. (10:41)
How he wants his service to be remembered; doesn't regret being hurt; better him than anyone else on his team. (00:35)  

Home » Eric Wayne Cagle
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  October 26, 2011
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