Iraq Veteran on Life After Serious Wounds - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

03/02/04

Iraq Veteran on Life After Serious Wounds

Spec. Chris Shipley Spec. Chris Shipley

One year ago, soldiers left the Coastal Empire to make history in the liberation of Iraq. But once they returned home, the transition to everyday life is not always easy. WTOC spent time with soldiers still trying to adjust to life after Iraq. Forty-four Third Infantry soldiers lost their lives in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hundreds returned home with injuries that could take months or years to mend.

One soldier returned with an amazing outlook on war and life. Spec. Chris Shipley had called Fort Stewart home for about a year before he deployed to Kuwait and the eventual strike on Iraq. He was driving a tank in the 1-64th Armor. Their historic march into Baghdad became known as Thunder Run.

"A 64 mm recourse rifle blew out the back end of my tank and caught it on fire," he recalled. "We stopped to put out the fire. We couldn't do it in time. So they put me on a 113 and I was on top with an M4 scanning around when I got hit."

The attack cost two fellow soldiers their lives and changed Shipley's career forever. "I got hit in the head at an angle so that it took out my eye," he said. "So I'm permanently blind in one eye and then took minor shrapnel wounds in the arm."

With the humor only a 20-year-old war veteran could muster, Shipley says he'd serve again if he could. "I would have ducked," he joked. "If I'd know what was going to happen, I'd have ducked."

Like others who faced the enemy nose to nose, he downplays his wounds and any changes to his life. "It's going to change my military career cause I can't stay in a combat MOS with half vision," he said. "You can't live in the past if you're going to move on. I'm not blind or missing two legs or anything. I mean I can still function normally, so it's nothing to be sad about."

While he'll soon leave the Army, Shipley knows his sacrifice helped pave the way to history. Shipley faces more medical treatment to lessen the scars and make his eye less noticeable. But he's thankful to be alive.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

Powered by Frankly