Santa Rosa man wounded in Afghanistan blast

  • Stefan LeRoy at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Stefan LeRoy follows the Eagle Scout's maxim to always be prepared, but that only goes so far in war, when in an instant everything you thought you knew can change.

It might have been different had the 21-year-old Santa Rosa man followed the advice of his family and friends to stay in college, graduate and go into the Army as an officer.

But LeRoy felt he was prepared for anything, including in that moment when the world exploded around him and he rushed in to help.

The Army private first class was on patrol June 7 with the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan's Kandahar province when explosions rocked the earth.

Among those injured in the initial blasts was a young father from Georgia who LeRoy noticed was being carried on a stretcher to a waiting helicopter. LeRoy did what came naturally to him and rushed to help, not thinking about where he was stepping.

"You're not going to stop doing something because there might be an IED (improvised explosive device) out there," he said. "You have to do what you have to do to help your buddies."

He remembers grabbing the stretcher and stepping over a body, and the explosion that followed when his foot hit the ground again.

"I could tell my legs were pretty much gone," he said.

LeRoy spoke by phone this week from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he is undergoing a painful recovery from his injuries. In addition to both of his legs being partially amputated, the 2009 Maria Carrillo High School graduate has a fractured arm and an eye injury. He also lost a small part of one finger.

His father, Mike, mother, Kathy, and twin brother, Ben, are at the hospital with him, having been summoned there by a series of phone calls that every parent of an active-duty soldier dreads.

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