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Family visits with injured local soldier in Germany

Justin Lansford

Justin Lansford

With their son fighting for his life, first in Afghanistan and then in a German hospital, Rick and Kim Lansford felt helpless back in the U.S.

The couple finally got to see their son, Army soldier and Brookwood grad Justin Lansford, on Saturday morning. It took a long flight to Germany and a 90-minute ride to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, but it was worth it.

"When we walked in the door Kim said hello to Justin and he tried opening his eyes and appeared to cry a little," Rick said. "I said hello after that and got some eye movement, but after that he settled back down."

The soldier, injured Monday morning when his armored vehicle struck a roadside bomb, suffered a setback when he developed Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS), which causes fluid build-up and prevents oxygen from getting into the blood. That condition kept him from flying back to the U.S. as scheduled on Friday, so his parents were flown to Germany instead.

Rick Lansford said his son's condition has improved since the last report the family received, and that he has been placed on an oscillating ventilator to break up the fluid in his lungs. The hopes are for continued improvement, then Lansford possibly will get a tracheotomy tube for breathing.

The family is hopeful that he is well enough for a Tuesday transfer to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

"I am so glad we are here by his side," Rick Lansford said. "I know he feels our presence and I hope that gives him the reassurance he needs to keep on fighting."

Lansford was injured when he was driving a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (commonly known as an MRAP) on a recovery mission to assist a unit with a broken-down vehicle. On the way to that stop, his vehicle struck a roadside bomb and sent it flying. Because of the severity of the ensuing fight, it took hours for Lansford to be removed from the situation.

Rick Lansford found out a few new details about the attack Saturday when he arrived in Germany. He said his son lost so much blood while awaiting extraction that he received 20 units of whole blood and five units of packed cells.

"He's lucky to be alive and I know his luck is going to continue to hold out," Rick Lansford said.

Lansford is a 2007 graduate of Brookwood, where he played on the Broncos' 2005 state runner-up team.