My Last Tour: Wounded Hero
|SPC Christopher Lowe|
For a second week, Senior Master Sergeant Rex Temple shares news of a loss of men from his Afghanistan base. And this time, it got very personal for Temple. The Tampa airman is keeping a blog during his a year-long deployment and checking in every week with WUSF.
Only a plywood wall separated SMSgt. Temple's office from Specialist Christopher Santiago Lowe's office at their Forward Operating Base in eastern Afghanistan.
Lowe is with the Georgia Army National Guard and a member of Alpha Troop which Temple nicknamed the "Georgia Boys."
Temple really got to know Lowe after they went on a Village Medical Operation together and some other missions. That's when Temple learned about Lowe's sense of humor and his willingness to have his picture taken for Temple's blog.
SPC Lowe loved having his photographs posted on Temple's blog so his mother back in Savannah could see what he was up to. Temple remembers one of those photos was taken while on an overnight mission. They bivouacked next to a lake where Lowe took a swim and afterward posed for a photo wearing only his boxer shorts, his Stetson and holding a weapon.
Lowe's mother not only became a regular fan of Rex's blog, she began emailing Rex's wife Liisa on a regular basis. That became a critical line of communication for both families after Lowe was injured when the Taliban attacked during a mission that killed Marine Capt. Matt Freeman.
U.S. and French troops along with members of the Afghan National Army were ambushed by an estimated 60 to 100 Taliban fighters according to Temple's blog.
"As a result, my friend SPC Lowe along with Capt. Freeman and a couple other people decided to shelter in a kalat," Temple said. That's a walled in compound with a mud brick house. Capt. Freeman crawled to the roof for a better vantage point and was fatally hit by a bullet.
The "doc" tried to help Capt. Freeman and hollered for help. SPC Lowe scrambled up the ladder, sensed what was going on, grabbed the "doc" and threw him down. Lowe was hit in the leg by a bullet. He and the doc both fell off the roof.
Lowe saved the doc's life and in turn the doc saved Lowe whose femoral artery was nicked during the firefight. Specialist Lowe was flown to Bagram Air Force Base for surgery and then on to Germany where Temple talked with his friend after a second surgery.
"I just wanted to say hey I think you're a hero and of course he's rather timid about it and said no senior I'm not a hero, I was just doing my job," Temple said.
Lowe was really concerned about his unit and wanted to go back to Afghanistan. Instead, he's headed to the U.S. for rehab on his leg. A memorial service for Capt. Freeman will be held later this week at his Afghanistan Forward Operating Base and Temple plans to cover it for his blog.
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