By Shelley Grieshop
PHILOTHEA -- A 19-year-old Philothea man was injured in Iraq this weekend by a roadside bomb that killed a member of his Army unit.
Private First Class Brian Bruns, a 2003 Coldwater High School graduate, was riding in a motorcade Saturday when an "improvised explosive device" detonated in Baghdad. Shrapnel reportedly severed a main artery in his leg and he was transported to a hospital in Germany, his family was told.
Bruns is the oldest son of Steve and Cathy Bruns of Philothea Road and a member of Bravo Company, 20th Engineer Battalion, First Calvary Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas. He has five siblings ages 12 to 21.
One soldier from his unit, a father of three young children, was killed in the blast. Cathy Bruns said the deceased soldier was a "good friend" of her son. A total of five soldiers were wounded.
The incident was one of several deadly attacks reported during the weekend as insurgents attempt to derail the country's scheduled Jan. 30 elections, according to U.S. military officials. Twenty-one Iraqis -- 17 civilians working for U.S.-led coalition forces and four Iraqi security personnel -- were reportedly killed Sunday in three separate insurgent attacks. Cathy Bruns said she received the news of her son's injuries in a phone call from him at 9:15 a.m. Saturday. The incident occurred on Saturday while the unit was out on patrol. Iraq is eight hours ahead of Ohio's eastern time zone.
"I was out in the barn when my kids came out and got me. They said Brian has to talk to you," she said. "I knew something was wrong."
Brian Bruns, in Iraq since March, told his mother he was doing OK and had just gotten out of surgery. The young man who rarely went to a doctor growing up will likely stay at the Germany hospital for a short time before being transferred back to the states, his family hopes.
There is a possibility he could remain stateside at Fort Hood until his tour of duty is up in March, his mother said. If his injuries require extensive medical attention he likely would be transferred to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., she added.
"The hardest part is not being able to be with him. We couldn't be there by his bed when he got out of surgery, that's hard," she added.
Cathy Bruns' brother, who recently moved from Germany back to the United States, notified some friends in Germany who plan to check up on Bruns today, she said.
"It will just be reassuring to hear from someone who actually saw him and can tell us how he's doing," Steve Bruns said.
This isn't the first time Pfc. Bruns was injured in Iraq. In June, while driving a tank, he received metal shrapnel in his eyes -- also from a roadside bomb.
"Within 24 hours he was back with his company on mission," Steve Bruns said.
That time was much scarier, the family said. They received a call from a military officer who could only tell them their son received head injuries. It was another 24 hours before Brian Bruns was able to call home and reassure his parents that he was going to be alright.
Bruns, who enlisted as a junior in high school, was home in November for his sister's wedding and went back one week later. During his short visit, he spoke to several youth groups, his mother said.
"He's been really frustrated about the impression people are getting about the war from the media," Cathy Bruns explained. "He told the kids there's a lot of good going on there."
Ninety percent of the Iraqi people are happy the U.S. military is there; unfortunately, there's still the 10 percent -- thousands of people -- who make the environment extremely dangerous each day, Brian Bruns told youths in the local area.
Meanwhile, Bruns' family has been showered with kind deeds "and lots of prayers" from the community and they are grateful, Cathy Bruns said.
"I don't know how people go on without faith," she said.