East Texas Soldier Injured In Iraq Is Home On Leave

An insurgent attack in Iraq nearly claimed the life of an East Texas soldier.  U.S. Army Specialist Joshua Cason suffered second and third degree burns to a fourth of his body after insurgents bombed the armored vehicle he was in. After spending several weeks in the hospital, Joshua is back home in Edom on a 30-day leave.

"We were hit by an improvised explosive device. It was an IFP, one of the newest things they were using," he said.  Joshua's unit come under attack on April 20th. "I was burned 27 percent of my body, both arms, my stomach, both sides and my right knee and my back.   I didn't want to die there, so I tried to calm myself down and get out as quick as I could."

Four of Cason's comrades were also injured.   One of them later died.   Josh's family says seeing his condition was the hardest experience they've gone through. "When we went in to see him, we'd have to have gloves on. We've have to have aprons on. It would literally be 110 degrees in there and he'd been nearly freezing. They had heat lamps on him," said Joshua's father, Mark Cason.

"It's been one of the most difficult things that I've ever had to go through in my life and even being a nurse it was really, really difficult that you love, that you're taking care of," said Joshua's stepmother, Audrey Cason.

Cason had been serving in Iraq since December. He says during his time there, he noticed attackers becoming more and more strategic. "They adapted to us and then we had to adapt to them," said Joshua. Cason says the death of terrorist leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi by a U.S. airstrike, will not weaken the insurgency. "There's always going to be the next guy to take his place," said Joshua.  But, he says, there will also be soldiers willing to stand up and fight.

Joshua is going to need physical therapy for a year. He'll serve the remainder of his army contract in San Antonio. After that, Joshua plans to go to school.

Oralia Ortega reporting, ortega@kltv.com