January 10, 2007 Edition

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Two LawCo. soldiers injured in Iraq

Reddi Parker (from left), Austin Phillips and Telly Lawson pose for a photo before leaving with the 875th Engineer Battalion for training in Wisconsin last year. Parker and Phillips, both Walnut Ridge High School graduates, were injured by a grenade attack in Iraq on Jan. 2.
Amber Adams
Gretchen Hunt
TD Staff

Austin Phillips and Reddi Parker, both Lawrence County natives, are back on U.S. soil after being injured in a grenade attack on Jan. 2 in Iraq.

Members of the 875th Engineer Battalion, the two were among three who were injured in the incident, which involved two grenades.

Austin and Reddi attended Walnut Ridge High School together and have generally performed missions together in Iraq, along with the third person who was injured.

They were both taken to a hospital in Germany after the attack, and the two were also able to make the trip home together, flying on the same plane to Washington, D.C., where they are being treated.

"They've been together through it all," Reddi's mother, Mona Parker, said.

Reddi is the son of Danny and Mona Parker of Jonesboro, formerly of Walnut Ridge. Austin is the son of Danny and Lesia Phillips of Black Rock, and he and his wife, Jamie, have a son, Gunner.

Lesia said that she and Danny, Jamie and Gunner would be joining Austin today in Washington, D.C., where he is being treated as an outpatient at Walter Reed Medical Center. He is staying at the Malone House, which is connected to the hospital.

Austin suffered several injuries and underwent surgery on his neck and hand. He was expected to have knee surgery, as well, but that has been cancelled now.

"We have been real impressed with how they have tried to keep us informed," Lesia said. "They called and said they would make arrangements for Jamie, Gunner, my husband and me to go, and they would take care of food and a place to stay."

Lesia said they are very encouraged by the fact that he is being treated as an outpatient.

"We are expecting a full recovery," she said, though there will be some scarring.

Mona said that Reddi's injuries included serious damage to his right foot. While at first, it was expected that he would lose the foot, now doctors have said that he should be able to keep a lot of his foot.

Reddi's family is in Washington, D.C., with him, as well.

Mona said that Reddi signed his re-enlistment papers the night before he left Iraq for Germany.

"That was his main concern," she said. "He wants to stay active in the military."

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Marion Berry was scheduled to visit with the two in Reddi's hospital room.

Mothers of both men said the guys are staying positive, despite the situation.

"Reddi's spirits have been really good," Mona said. "He's looking forward to getting out of the hospital."

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