Three Oregon National Guard soldiers - including a former Astoria man - suffered injuries in an ambush near Mosul, Iraq.
The soldiers, members of the Albany-based Bravo Company of the 52nd Engineers, were traveling Wednesday in a water resupply convoy when the passenger side of their vehicle was hit with small arms fire, said Kay Fristad, a spokeswoman for the Oregon National Guard.
Spc. Joseph Robert Lillibridge, 26, of Keizer suffered a bullet wound to the back. Spc. Brian Joseph Dooley of Bend had a round pass through his right knee before hitting the other leg, Fristad said.
The driver, Spc. Christopher W. Jones, 27, of Portland was treated for bumps and bruises and returned to his unit.
But Jones' mother, Laura Bredleau, said she corresponded with her son via e-mail after the ambush and said he suffered than just bumps and bruises, but is still allright.
"He ended up getting shot in the head, but the bullet richocheted off his helmet," she said. "Thank God. That's a scary thing for a mother."
In addition to being hit in the helmet, Bredleau said her son also was hit by shrapnel in his right shin and his left middle and index fingers. Despite the injuries, Bredleau said her son remains in good spirits.
"He's hung in there and he's a fighter and he's doing it because he knows it's right," she said.
Jones' wife, Shannan Jones, said her husband called her Thursday to tell her about the ambush.
"He was really shaken up," she said. "He just wanted to make sure I knew he was OK."
Jones said her husband is proud of his unit's work in Iraq and thinks they are making a difference. But he longs to be home. His daughter turned one last month.
Keith Neal, former principal of Astoria High School and current principal of Captain Robert Gray Elementry School, said he knew Jones more as a fellow soldier rather than a student.
Neal, who is a Command Sgt. Major with Rilea Armed Forces Training Center, Training Center Command, said he worked with Jones a few times at the base and said he "was real excited about being in the National Guard and going (to Iraq) and had been real positive about serving.
"I know he's a good soldier and he was doing his job when this took place," he said. "I feel for his family and friends."
Bredleau said her son graduated from Astoria High School in 1994 and was on the school's swim team. She said he has four younger brothers and decided to go into the Guard after high school to pay for college.
"And you can see where that ended up," she said. "Part time National Guard and he's fighting for his life in Iraq."
Even though she said she's proud of her son and supports his mission in Iraq, Bredleau said she feels it is time for him to come home. Especially because he has a one-year-old daughter who is also waiting for him.
Jones' unit, known as the B52s, is a combat construction heavy engineer company that has been helping rebuild infrastructure in Iraq.
The 140-soldier unit, which left for the Middle East in mid-April, is attached to the 101st Airborne.
The three soldiers are the first from the Oregon National Guard to be wounded in action, said Maj. Gen. Alexander Burgin, adjutant general of the Oregon National Guard. Dooley and Lillibridge both underwent surgery at an Army hospital at the Mosul airfield for their wounds, Fristad said. Both were to be evacuated to a hospital in Europe.