Saturday, February 24, 2007

Army Specialist Ethan J. Biggers

Remember Our Heroes

Army Specialist Ethan J. Biggers, 22, of Beavercreek, Ohio

Spc. Biggers was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; died Feb. 24 in Indianapolis, Ind., of wounds sustained while on combat patrol in Baghdad on March 5, 2006.

Ethan Biggers died one year after he was shot by a sniper in Iraq.

By By Margo Rutledge Kissell

Staff Writer

Friday, March 02, 2007

Army Spc. Ethan Biggers will be buried Monday, exactly one year after he was shot in the head by a sniper's bullet during his second tour in Iraq.

The 22-year-old father from Beavercreek died Saturday in the Richard L. Roudebush Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Indianapolis, 11 days after his family made the decision to remove his feeding tube.

Biggers had been in a coma since he was wounded during a mission southwest of Baghdad.

The 2003 Beavercreek High School graduate served with B company, 1-502, 101st Airborne Division out of Fort Campbell, Ky.

He leaves a wife, Britni R. Biggers, and their 9-month-old son, Eben John Biggers.

Army Specialist Ethan Biggers, by all accounts, should not have survived after being shot in the head by a sniper in Iraq.

BALAD, Iraq — After a helicopter rushed Army Spc. Ethan Biggers to the military hospital here in March, neurosurgeons left the operating room shaken by the extensive damage to his brain.

A sniper had shot Biggers, 21, through the head, and the wound looked as bad as any that doctors Brett Schlifka and Hans Bakken had seen.

"If he came into my hospital in the States, gunshot wound to the head, eyes fixed and dilated, not a chance I would take him into the O.R. Not a chance," says Schlifka, 35, of Philadelphia. "(We'd) tell his family it's a non-survivable injury."

But Ethan Biggers did survive, even after having a significant portion of his skull removed. He was eventually flown to Walter Reed, where his prognosis remained grave. While Ethan fought for his life, his pregnant wife Britni was preparing to give birth to their first child, a son who would be named after Ethan's favorite Lieutenant. Day after day, Ethan, known as BIGG E, clung to life, and day after day BIGG E defied the odds. Ethan's father, Rand Biggers, spoke of miracles.

"He's beat a lot of odds," said his father, Rand Biggers, a physicist at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base who has been with his son since he arrived back in the United States. "It's a miracle he's got this far. We keep asking for more miracles."

Miracle indeed. Ethan Biggers has significant challenges ahead of him, but he continues to improve. Ethan has been moved from Walter Reed to a VA hospital in Tampa, Florida, where currently he is breathing without the assistance of a respirator.

Ethan's twin brother Matt is an active-duty soldier. Service is a tradition in the Biggers family:

“Their grandfather’s destroyer, the ‘Newcomb,’ was severely damaged by five Kamikazes at Okinawa during World War II,” she said. “Their father served as a C-130 pilot in Vietnam and later in KC-135s, and Ethan and Matt chose to serve in the United States Army as infantrymen, Ethan in B Company 1-502nd ‘The Deuce’ Infantry Regiment in the 101st Air Assault Division ‘Screaming Eagles,’ Matt in B Company 1-26th ‘Blue Spaders’ Infantry Regiment in the First Infantry Division, ‘Big Red One.’

Unfortunately, this family was dealt another blow last week when Rand Biggers was killed in a car accident.

Rand Biggers, a Wright-Patterson physicist who spent much of last year helping a son recover from a severe head injury suffered in Iraq, was one of two people killed in Thursday's car accident in Beavercreek.

Biggers, 59, worked at the Air Force Research Laboratory for 23 years and has been a civilian employee at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base since 1990, according to his wife, Cheryl.

He also was a Vietnam veteran and would become the second of three generations of war veterans. His father, Ralph, served in World War II and both sons, twins Ethan and Matthew, served in Iraq. He has two daughters, Amanda Watkins and Liza Biggers.

While proud of his sons' service, he was deeply worried about their safety.

When Ethan was injured March 5, Biggers took leave from his job to join Ethan, first at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, then at a veterans' hospital in Tampa, Fla.

Ethan's injury and the family's response were profiled in the Dayton Daily News in April.

At Walter Reed, Biggers stood by his son's bedside but admitted he spent more time in the chapel asking God to help him make sense of what he called "an insane situation."

This family has had an unimaginable nightmare laid at their feet, not once, but twice. They need our help and our support. First, I would advise adding the Biggers family to your prayer list. Second, you can imagine the financial challenges that naturally occur with a tragedy of this magnitude. Please consider making a donation to The Biggers Fund:

Make checks payable to "The Biggers Fund"

Peace Lutheran Church, 3530 Dayton-Senia Road, Beavercreek, Ohio 45432

Army Specialist Ethan J. Biggers died 02/24/07 of wounds sustained on combat patrol in Baghdad on 03/05/06.

1 comment:

Tanya Cleary said...

I had to honor of getting to know Ethan and his family during their stay here at the J.A. Haley VA in Tampa. Ethan was an incredibly brave soldier and continued to fight for a recovery. His family sustained the pain of not only Ethan's injury, but losing Ethan's father in a car accident, yet they clung together and forged ahead with hope in their hearts. They are a true example of a proud American family.
R.I.P. SPC Ethan J. Biggers
You will be in our hearts forever.
Most respectfully,
Soldiers Angels