Face of Defense: Soldier Escapes Death, Re-enlists
From a Task Force Rakkasan News Release
KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan, May 11, 2010 When Army Sgt. Brandon Bougades told his re-enlistment noncommissioned officer, “Let’s get this done before something happens” during a May 6 conversation, he had no way of knowing how prophetic his statement would be.
Army Col. Viet Luong, commander of the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, congratulates Army Sgt. Brandon Bougades, after Bougades re-enlisted for six more years at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, May 7, 2010. Bougades escaped death when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb on the same day as his re-enlistment appointment, his 28th birthday. U.S. Army photo by Maj. S. Justin Platt
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The White Sulfur, W.Va., native -- assigned to C Troop, 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment -- had spoken with Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Waller of Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, about adding another six years to his time in the Army.
To make the event special, he scheduled his re-enlistment ceremony for May 7, his 28th birthday.
Just hours prior to the appointed time for the ceremony, something did happen.
“I told you so,” Bougades would later say as Waller, from Jeffersonville, Ind., walked into a combat support hospital room on Forward Operating Base Salerno, where Bougades lay in a bed receiving treatment for his wounds.
While he was on a patrol east of Camp Clark, Bougades’ vehicle struck a roadside bomb that wounded his lower extremities. He was rushed by helicopter to the Salerno hospital by helicopter.
This was the third time Bougades had been wounded in combat –- something he seems to take in stride. His first comment to medical personnel wasn’t about pain, but rather was about the re-enlistment appointment he might miss.
“You can ask the medics,” Bougades said. “From the second I came in, I told them, ‘I got to re-enlist. I’m supposed to do that today. I still want to.’”
The leaders at Salerno rushed to make it happen, with Army Col. Viet Luong, commander of the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, taking the lead at the bedside ceremony.
“Being here to do this is the ultimate honor for me,” Luong told Bougades during the ceremony. “You know what I think of you. I’ve got 6,000 soldiers, and I could have picked you up out of a line-up because of my admiration for your leadership, and I’ve told you that before.”
“I love this job,” Bougades said. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I don’t want to be doing anything else.”