Sue Beat knew roadside bomb attacks would be the greatest threat to her son's safety after he was deployed on a noncombat mission to Afghanistan.
Wednesday, just a few weeks before Army Capt. Robert L. Beat was slated to return to the United States, the Sylvania man was hurt when an armored vehicle he was traveling in hit an improvised explosive device buried in the road.
"When we got the call that that was what happened, my heart just sank for a moment," Mrs. Beat said. "Then we were told his injuries were not life-threatening."
The concerns of her and her husband, Doug, were alleviated further when Army officials e-mailed a photo of Captain Beat, 31, at the Bagram Air Base hospital just two days after the attack. In the picture, he's on crutches but smiling, a Purple Heart pinned to his Army T-shirt.
He told family members the blast caused the mine-resistant, ambush-protected armored vehicle to shoot straight into the air and, fortunately, return to the ground with its occupants alive.
"The MRAP truck did its job and kept us all safe inside," Captain Beat said in an e-mail to The Blade Monday from Germany, where he awaits more medical treatment. "However, the blast did cause some minor to semiserious injuries to me and a few other guys. My left foot was broken in several places, and two others had serious, but not life-threatening, neck and back injuries."
His mother said if the armored vehicle had not landed right side up, it could have overturned into a river on one side or a concrete wall on the other.
"It was chilling what they experienced," she said, adding that those are her words, not her son's. "He never expressed any concern about being afraid. They're trained to deal with these situations, and he just took it as part of the training he had."
Captain Beat's twin brother, Ryan, said his younger brother - Robert was born 20 minutes after Ryan - has been athletic and has a solid commitment to the U.S. Army Reserves, which he joined during college to help with tuition costs. "I have friends in the National Guard and other military service and they all said, 'Basic training was horrible. I hated it,'" Ryan Beat said. "My brother is the only person I ever knew who said as soon as basic training was over that he wanted to go back and do it over."
He said his brother, who graduated from Emmanuel Christian School and the University of Toledo, has talked of enlisting full time. His current year-long tour in Afghanistan is his second one.
"He really enjoys it," Ryan said. "This is his calling in life. I've never seen him respond so positively to anything as he does to the military."
An accountant at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in Toledo, Captain Beat is a civil affairs officer with Alpha Company/412th Civil Affairs Battalion, based in Whitehall, Ohio.
In his e-mail, Captain Beat said he led a four-man team in the northern part of Afghanistan's Kunar Province that was responsible for training and mentoring the district government. Wednesday, he was to meet with the Kunar government and shura members to introduce them to his replacement when the trip abruptly was interrupted. "Our mission that day was of a purely noncombat-related nature and was aimed at trying to further the development of the government in the region," he said. "The IED [improvised explosive device] on [Oct. 6] may have stopped me from getting to see the government for one last time, but it won't stop the Army from continuing to improve the lives of the Afghans one district at a time."
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