China Grove native recovering in Afghanistan after suffering gunshot wound
By SSgt. Todd Pouliot
Task Force Falcon Public Affairs
LOGAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan — “I knew I didn’t want to leave my fellow soldiers, my teammates,” the young pathfinder said as he explained why he decided to return to Afghanistan despite having the opportunity to recover from his gunshot wound stateside. “We arrived together, we’ll leave together.”
Since returning to his unit at Forward Operating Base Shank, Afghanistan, U.S. Army Spc. Stephen Moore of Pathfinder Company, Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, has no regrets about his decision.
The China Grove native was on a downed aircraft recovery mission with his platoon April 23 when he sustained a gunshot wound to his leg. An OH-58 Kiowa helicopter had gone down in a valley and insurgents were beginning to surround the aircraft.
“We were moving toward the downed aircraft when I got shot,” said Moore. “Bullets were flying but you never think — don’t want to think — about one hitting you. It’s a reality check when you get hit.”
The unit’s medic applied a pressure dressing, tourniquet and intravenous fluids. Moore then had to walk more than a mile to a casualty evacuation point while taking fire. From the evacuation point, he was flown to a nearby base and the following day, he was evacuated to Landstuhl, Germany.
After about a month of physical therapy, Moore was given a choice to go to the U.S. to recover or to return to his unit to continue physical therapy at the Forward Operating Base Shank medical facility.
Moore said he knew he would no longer be able to go on missions with his pathfinder platoon. Nonetheless, it was important for him to return and finish the deployment with his fellow soldiers. Moore’s commanding officer commended his soldier’s determination and decision to return.
“He had to move more than (a mile) down steep terrain, across a river and never complained,” said U.S. Army Capt. Joseph Lang, Pathfinder Company commander. “First reports were that Moore wanted to come back even though he knew he couldn’t go back on missions; it says a lot about him.”
Moore returned to Forward Operation Base Shank on May 13 and although he isn’t going out on missions, he is able to spend time with his former comrades daily. He was assigned to Task Force Knighthawk’s medical evacuation platoon, where he provides added security on certain missions and escorts non-coalition patients.
“He’s an excellent asset; a great guy to have around,” said U.S. Army Capt. Julian Gilbert, MEDEVAC platoon leader with Company C, Task Force Knighthawk. “He serves as an additional security asset for us. Sometimes when we must land in areas where there are not a lot of U.S. forces present, Specialist Moore will pull security outside the helicopter.”
Moore said he finds his new role to be rewarding and interesting, especially since he’s able to contribute to the mission alongside his platoon.
“I’m glad I came back,” he said. “I consider it an honor to come back and serve my country.”
Moore received the Purple Heart Medal and Combat Action Badge on June 16.