Wounded Fort Bliss soldiers return home following IED blast

Tuesday, June 3, 2014 - 11:22pm

Two wounded Fort Bliss soldiers are adjusting to the home lives that were nearly taken away from them by a roadside blast in Afghanistan.

Staff Sergeant Jaime De La Paz and Corporal Mario Bravo were injured during an improvised explosive device attack on May 20.

"I remember waking up and hearing the screams," De La Paz told Local 4 on Tuesday. "The initial explosion happened, next thing I remember we were on the helicopter, flying to the hospital."

Speaking at his Upper Valley home, De La Paz said time seemed to move in slow motion in the split second of the blast.

The staff sergeant suffered a concussion and back injuries.

Both men arrived back at Fort Bliss late Monday night at the orders of doctors.

De La Paz and Bravo are members of the 2-5 Infantry, the same unit as Command Sergeant Major Martin Barreras.

Barreras was hit by enemy fire just days before the IED explosion. He died from his gunshot wounds a few weeks later.

De La Paz said Barreras was unlike other sergeants major.

"Sergeants major are usually standoff-ish," De La Paz said, "but he was like a soldier. If you asked him to carry something, he'd carry it for you. If you asked him to carry an extra load, he'd carry it."

Now back home with his wife and children, including his 5-month-old daughter, Da La Paz -- who has survived multiple IED blasts -- contemplated a future that was, once again, nearly taken from him.

"After being in the Army so long, I don't know if my body can take being in the infantry anymore," he said with a chuckle. "I'm hoping to stay in the Army but re-class to a different job; I'm hoping to be bored behind a desk somewhere, you know?"

Holding his baby in his arms he added, "We'll see if it works out like that for me or not; it's up to the doctors from this point on."


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