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SEATTLE, Wash. — The parents of U.S. Army PFC Eric Sabath report that the solider remains in good spirits while receiving medical treatment for injuries to his feet from an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan.
Sabath is well-known in Hillsville and surrounding communities as a 2009 graduate of Carroll County High School and as an employee of the Hillsville Subway for five years, said his mother, Yvette Sabath.
She spoke to The Gazette on Monday, while visiting the soldier in a Washington state hospital.
After joining the army in February 2011, Sabath trained at Fort Benning in Georgia and then pulled an assignment in the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, according to information from the U.S. Army.
The military awarded Sabath a Purple Heart on Aug. 7 in the Global War on Terrorism, a day after he received injuries while working to clear the road of explosive devices.
At the time of the incident, Sabath was clearing the road in what soldiers call “the IED dozer,” with shielding underneath to remove the explosives that insurgents plant to cause havoc.
Sabath stopped when he came to hump in the road, and he stood up to see if the way was clear so he could continue on, his mother said. That’s when the IED exploded.
Officials estimate there was around 50 to 60 pounds of explosives in the device.
The shockwave threw Sabath in the dozer’s cage and knocked his helmet off his head. The power of the explosion also blew his feet about three-quarters of an inch to half an inch from where they should be.
Fellow soldiers got Sabath to an Afghan hospital, she said. From there, he was taken to Germany and brought back to Seattle, where he’s receiving medical treatment.
Sabath has already had two surgeries to bring his feet back into line where they should be and a second to reconstruct his right foot.
Before the effort to save Sabath’s feet is over, his mother expects he’ll need at least two more surgeries.
It’s very technical, Yvette Sabath said. “I just know that boy has more hardware in his foot than you can buy at Lowe’s.”
It appears that the left foot can be repaired, she said. The condition of the right foot has been improved by the surgeries, but the final result remains in question.
“I can tell you that his attitude is magnificent,” Yvette Sabath said. “I don’t know if me and his father are here to keep his spirits up or if he’s here to keep our spirits up.
“He is an absolutely wonderful young man.”
While many would call Sabath a hero, he would just say that he was doing his job, Yvette said. He feels that he is just one of the guys.
“There’s a lot of love being sent his way and we appreciate every bit of it,” she said.
This incident has also made Yvette Sabath aware of the good work the Wounded Warrior Program is doing for service members with injuries.
She encouraged others to support the program that has the vision “to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.”
More information is available about the program at woundedwarriorproject.org.
“We need to help our men and women who come home injured,” she said.