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Published: Tuesday, 3/25/2003

Grenade injures area soldier in 101st Airborne Division

BY BLADE STAFF

HURON, Ohio - Carol Holden saw the news reports over the weekend that someone - apparently a U.S. soldier - threw a grenade into a commanders' tent in Kuwait. Fifteen people were injured, some badly.

She heard the men were from the 101st Airborne Division at Camp Pennsylvania, just like her son. And that the wounded were commanders. Just like her son.

A phone call at 4:30 a.m. Sunday, in the middle of a restless night, confirmed what Mrs. Holden had feared: Greg Holden, 30, was hit by shrapnel from the grenade. He was seriously hurt, and medics were waiting until he was stabilized to take him to a hospital in Germany.

“It was a jolt. I think it's any parent's nightmare,” Mrs. Holden said yesterday. “We were hoping it wasn't his tent.”

Captain Holden, a company commander who has been in the military for eight years, has shrapnel in his stomach, his mother said. Both his legs are broken and have pins put in them, she added. The family is waiting for word that he is well enough to be flown to Germany - maybe by today - then possibly to a Washington hospital.

Captain Holden, who grew up in Huron, joined the military eight years ago and is devoted to his duty, his mother said.

“He loved his job,” Mrs. Holden said. “He believed in what he was doing.”

Right now, the Holdens are looking to their faith in God - a faith Mrs. Holden said her son clings to as well.

Captain Holden has belonged to Zion Lutheran Church in Sandusky all his life.

Pastor John Mawhirter said he saw Captain Holden in church just before he was deployed overseas several months ago. While not all of the congregation may support the war, members united Sunday to show support for Captain Holden and the other U.S. troops in the Gulf region.

“It no longer becomes an issue of who's in the right and who's in the wrong. It's a fact that they're there,” Mr. Mawhirter said. “We have to remember the soldiers who are there now. Greg personalized those issues strongly to people here.”

The Holdens also are relying on community support.

“Family and friends have been great. The community has been great,” Mrs. Holden said.

Robert and Lawanda Mason, who live across from Mrs. Holden and her husband, Gary, said the news has shaken them and other neighbors who know Captain Holden and his family.

“We have strong feeling for them, hurt feelings for them,” said Mr. Mason, a Navy veteran who served in the Korean War. “We just wish we could be more comforting to Gary and Carol in this time.”

The Masons have a grandson, Matt Wireman, who is stationed with the Air Force in Turkey, next door to Iraq. They say they know what it's like to worry about the safety of a loved one in the military.

“You always have concerns,” Mr. Mason said. “But I don't understand how somebody can roll grenades in on his own people. There has to be more to that story.”

Mrs. Holden said that's one of the hardest things to accept - that her son was hurt not by an Iraqi soldier, but by a colleague.

She can't begin to think what drove the man who apparently threw the grenade. “That's for the Army to figure out,” she said. “From what we were told, he did not know Greg. He was not in Greg's unit.”

The 101st Airborne Division includes about 20,000 people, she said.

Sgt. Asan Akbar, of the 101st Airborne Division's 326th Engineer Battalion, is in custody, said George Heath, a civilian spokesman at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Mr. Heath said Sergeant Akbar had not been charged with a crime but was the only person being questioned in the attack.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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