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Next mission is 'get better'

Soldier from Spencer recovering from wounds

Massachusetts National Guard Sgt. Matthew Chalifoux, right, of Spencer poses for a photo with Gen. David Petraeus in Baghdad, Iraq. Petraeus, now commander of American forces in Afghanistan, previously served commander of the multi-national force in Iraq. Chalifoux spent a year in Iraq in 2007, and then came home before being deployed to Afghanistan. (click for larger version)
December 22, 2010
SPENCER — Sgt. Matthew Chalifoux may be sitting in a bed at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., but that doesn't mean his Army career is over.

"The military was always calling me, something I wanted to do, and I've loved every minute of it," he said. "It's like a whole other family. It's very, very difficult for me to be laying up in a bed while the rest of my guys are still over there."

Chalifoux, 30, was injured Nov. 28 in Paktika province, Afghanistan, when his convoy was hit by a remote-detonated roadside bomb. According to his father, Raoul, the explosion essentially crushed Matt's right leg from the knee down; he has already had several surgeries and will need several more before doctors know if his leg can be saved.

Even if it's not, though, Matt Chalifoux said he knows other soldiers who returned to Afghanistan or Iraq with prosthetic limbs, although he noted he's not remotely ready to make that kind of decision yet.

"He'll stay on active duty and his 'job' will be to get better," Raoul Chalifoux said.

Officially, Matt Chalifoux is a team leader for the 1st Battalion, 181st Infantry of the Massachusetts National Guard, which did a year-long tour in Iraq in 2007, came home for a while, and received new orders to deploy to Afghanistan this July. Matt said the unit primarily acts as a security service for military engineers and others who are overseeing a variety of reconstruction projects, including schools, irrigation canals, bridges and roads. The groups are termed "Provincial Reconstruction Teams," and are joint efforts between Army, Navy and Air Force units "mostly to bang heads and make things better for the people of Afghanistan," he said.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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