THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
DAYTON, Ohio – Waiting for an Ohio soldier to come out of a coma are his wife who is preparing to deliver the couple’s first child and his twin brother who may soon return to combat duty in Iraq.
The wife of Army Spc. Ethan Biggers visited him in a Washington military hospital but had to return home to suburban Beavercreek because her pregnancy is high-risk. His brother had to leave the family’s bedside vigil last week to return to duty with the Army in Germany.
Biggers, 21, was shot March 5 during his second tour of duty in Iraq.
“It’s been a nightmare,” brother Matthew Biggers said.
His three years in the Army are up in July, but his company just received orders to return to Iraq in June.
“I want to go back,” he said.
Biggers’ wife, Britni Fuller, had to get medical clearance to travel to the hospital.
She remains optimistic about her husband’s recovery.
“He’s hanging in there, so I’m hanging in there,” she said.
At least 17,469 American military personnel have been wounded in Iraq. Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where Biggers is being treated, has handled 4,895 of them. Of those, 1,465 have been battle casualties.
And roughly 30 percent of those casualties have suffered traumatic brain injuries like Biggers, according to the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, a joint venture of the Defense and Veterans’ Affairs departments.
Biggers is pale and thinner than he used to be, but now he’s breathing on his own.
“He’s beat a lot of odds,” said his father, Rand Biggers, a physicist at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base who has been with his son since he arrived back in the United States. “It’s a miracle he’s got this far. We keep asking for more miracles.”
Nobody was surprised when the twins enlisted in the Army the summer before their senior year at Beavercreek High School. Their father flew C-130s for the Air Force during Vietnam, and their grandfather was in the Navy in World War II.
Seeing his son so gravely injured has been devastating.
“I don’t know how to deal with it,” the father said. “It’s so hard for me to see him, especially when he opens his eyes and he’s not there, at least yet.”