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By Sue Curry Jones
The American military is made up of ordinary men and women who choose to serve the United States in extraordinary ways.
Our military personnel perform jobs that require dedication and a brave heart, and many engage in extraordinary feats of courage crucial to the safety of fellow soldiers, and civilians.
Army Specialist Jacob Evans, age 22, is one of those extraordinary soldiers.
Trained to encounter explosive devices and field mines, Specialist Evans, along with detection dog Muddy, arrived in Combat Outpost Nolen in Afghanistan last week to clear a safe pathway through an area littered with Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
According to reports, Outpost Nolen is a small mud-walled school building set in the center of a grape and pomegranate field in southern Afghanistan. The vines and plant growth in the field provide cover for insurgents who travel a nearby supply route that leads to the city of Kandahar. The area is noted for intense fighting, and the outpost is attacked with gun fire and rockets almost daily. It is in the heart of Taliban country.
At the IED site, Evans was assisted by an American military patrol which provided cover for him while he worked his detection dog Muddy over the mine field. Muddy, trained to identify more than 60 types of explosive odors, had field experience from serving in Iraq.
However, last Friday the dog did not detect an explosive device.
On return back through the field, and without warning from the dog, Evans walked over a buried charge. The mine maimed his right foot removing his big toe, and broke bones in his foot and ankle. Jacob was wounded with shrapnel on the right side of his body, and on his left leg.
Evans was flown to a hospital in Frankfurt, Germany, and has since been flown to the United States for treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas. An Army Burn Center is located at the facility.
Amazingly, Jacob’s father, Bruce Evans, of Ava, has accompanied his son during the brief medical stay in Frankfurt, and on the return flight to the United States.
Bruce, who is employed as a government contract worker in Kabul in northern Afghanistan, was given permission to join his son in Frankfurt, Germany, and travel with him on the military transport to the states. A special honor granted to father and son.
In Frankfurt Specialist Evans was awarded the Purple Heart Medal for the wounds he suffered in combat.
Soldiers with the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne, who have witnessed mine explosions similar to Evans’ incident, talk about soldiers who have lost both legs, or a foot to a buried charge blast. They say Evans was very lucky.
However, Evans will tell you a different story, he wasn’t just lucky, he was protected. God was watching over him, and his partner Muddy as well. Evans has faith in that.
Specialist Jacob Evans is the son of Becky and Bruce Evans, of Ava; the grandson of Eunice and B.J. Evans, and great-grandson of Irma Evans, all of Ava.
Family members are currently making plans to visit Jacob during his recuperation time in Texas.