[caption id="attachment_3889" align="alignleft" width="300"] Army Col. Viet Luong, commander of the 101st Airborne Divisionâ€™s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, congratulates Army Sgt. Brandon Bougades, after Bougades re-enlisted for six more years at Forward Operating Base Salerno, Afghanistan, May 7, 2010. Bougades escaped death when his vehicle hit a roadside bomb on the same day as his re-enlistment appointment, his 28th birthday. U.S. Army photo by Maj. S. Justin Platt[/caption] KHOST PROVINCE, Afghanistan, â€“ When Army Sgt. Brandon Bougades told his re-enlistment noncommissioned officer, â€œLetâ€™s get this done before something happensâ€Â during a May 6 conversation, he had no way of knowing how prophetic his statement would be.
The White Sulfur, W.Va., native -- assigned to C Troop, 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment -- had spoken with Army Sgt. 1st Class Robert Waller of Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 101st Airborne Divisionâ€™s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, about adding another six years to his time in the Army.To make the event special, he scheduled his re-enlistment ceremony for May 7, his 28th birthday.Just hours prior to the appointed time for the ceremony, something did happen. â€œI told you so,â€Â Bougades would later say as Waller, from Jeffersonville, Ind., walked into a combat support hospital room on Forward Operating Base Salerno, where Bougades lay in a bed receiving treatment for his wounds. While he was on a patrol east of Camp Clark, Bougadesâ€™ vehicle struck a roadside bomb that wounded his lower extremities. He was rushed by helicopter to the Salerno hospital by helicopter. This was the third time Bougades had been wounded in combat â€“- something he seems to take in stride. His first comment to medical personnel wasnâ€™t about pain, but rather was about the re-enlistment appointment he might miss. â€œYou can ask the medics,â€Â Bougades said. â€œFrom the second I came in, I told them, â€˜I got to re-enlist. Iâ€™m supposed to do that today. I still want to.â€™â€Â The leaders at Salerno rushed to make it happen, with Army Col. Viet Luong, commander of the 101st Airborne Divisionâ€™s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, taking the lead at the bedside ceremony. â€œBeing here to do this is the ultimate honor for me,â€Â Luong told Bougades during the ceremony. â€œYou know what I think of you. Iâ€™ve got 6,000 soldiers, and I could have picked you up out of a line-up because of my admiration for your leadership, and Iâ€™ve told you that before.â€Â â€œI love this job,â€Â Bougades said. â€œI wouldnâ€™t want to be anywhere else. I donâ€™t want to be doing anything else.â€Â May 11, 2010: From a Task Force Rakkasan News Release