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By U.S. Army Spc. Lee Elder 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment BAQUABAH, Iraq, Jan. 23, 2006 - After being wounded in a suicide bomb blast, a U.S. soldier said there was never any question if she would rejoin her fellow soldiers, just when. Sgt. Kareena Lechner, assigned military police duties with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division, was among six soldiers injured Aug. 23 when an Iraqi with a fake I.D. entered the dining facility at the Provincial Joint Communication Center in Baquabah and blew himself up. Besides taking his own life and destroying the facility, two other U.S. personnel were killed.
[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="101"]iraq_12.23.06.sgt.karenna_lechner.jpg U.S. Army Sgt. Kareena Lechner, of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, insisted that she return to her unit after being wounded in a suicide attack. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Lee Elder[/caption]
"I remember a bright light and the noise," Lechner recalled. "I pretty well remember all of it very vividly."The blast destroyed both of Lechner's eardrums, left her with cuts and bruises and shrapnel wounds in both legs. She was evacuated to nearby Forward Operating Base Warhorse and later to Logistical Support Area Anaconda.
Lechner was hospitalized for two weeks. When time came for her release, she was told she was being transferred. "I told them I wanted to come back here," Lechner said. "I insisted on it. I talked to my battalion commander and they let me come back here." While Lechner has recovered physically and bears no visible scars from the incident, she is reminded of it daily. She has to walk past the demolished site where the facility once stood to get to work. Now, all that remains is the outline of a building on the ground and a few piles of rubble. "It was hard at first," Lechner said. "I just do not want to let things like that bother me." "She fought through her injuries and came back," said Staff Sgt. Charles Warner, the unit's operations sergeant. "She's earned a lot of respect around here. She's a good NCO and has a lot of heart." "Lechner is special to all of us," said Sgt. 1st Class Roberto Chavez, the center's noncommissioned officer in charge, "She asked her superiors to send her back here. That says a lot for her character."