Thursday, July 03, 2003

National Guard's 957th Multi-Role Bridge Company 

07-02-2003: news-local

Bismarck soldier wounded in Iraq
By TONY SPILDE, Bismarck Tribune

Something clearly was amiss in Jonathan Sigl's voice.

Where was the enthusiasm? The sweetness abandoned it, too. All that was left for his mother to decipher in an 8 p.m. phone call Monday was the hollow, recognizable shell of Sigl's voice. It is hard enough to understand someone when he calls Bismarck from Iraq without him not sounding like himself.

"Are you OK?" Julie Haussler asked her son. It had been four weeks since she'd talked to him.


"Tell me what you've been doing."

"You're probably going to hear about something that happened," Sigl said.

What that was -- what stole the charm from his voice -- was something mothers dread to hear. Her 22-year-old son had been injured by enemy fire.

Sigl, a specialist in the North Dakota National Guard's 957th Multi-Role Bridge Company, had been patrolling the Euphrates River near Ar Ramadi when five to eight enemy mortar shells exploded near the water. He caught shrapnel in his back and shoulders.

The mortars injured no other soldiers. Within five minutes, Sigl was transported to a medical aid station, Guard spokesman Rob Keller said. The attack came at about 1:45 a.m. Tuesday, Iraq time.

About two hours later -- 8 p.m. CDT Monday -- Sigl called home.

"He just didn't sound right," Haussler said. "I could tell he was being cautious about what he said. He didn't come out and say anything. I had to ask the questions. He was really controlled, but I could tell, you know, that he ... wanted a release."

Sigl told his mother he was hurt, but it could have been worse. He didn't give her many details. Those she got Tuesday morning in a call from the National Guard.

"One thing I'm really grateful for is he called before the Guard did," Haussler said. "I wouldn't have wanted that phone call without talking to him first."

Haussler said her son wants to stay in Iraq with his unit to finish its mission. Part of that mission is patrolling the Euphrates in assistance to the Army's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, a task given the 957th a month ago.

"I'd like him to come home," Haussler said. "He's on our minds all of the time. He said it might be dangerous where he is, but it's what he does. That scares me."

Keller said staying or leaving Iraq won't be up to Sigl. Medical professionals will decide whether he is well enough to stay. He was in good condition Tuesday.

"The information we have now is that he is doing well, which is very good news," Keller said. "It's the best news parents could have."

The 6-foot-3 Sigl, who enjoys wakeboarding, was starting his second semester at North Dakota State University when he got the call in February that the 957th was mobilizing. The unit trained for two months at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., before shipping out to Kuwait in April. It moved into Iraq shortly thereafter.

Sigl's father, Jerry Sigl, lives in Mandan.

Another North Dakota soldier, Spc. Alan Raymond Hill, 20, of Dunseith, who serves with the 978th Military Police Company based at Fort Bliss, Texas, suffered minor shrapnel wounds while patrolling in a Humvee north of Baghdad about a month ago.

(Reach Tony Spilde at 250-8260 or tspilde@ndonline.com.)


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