Wounded vets to marshal Parade of Bands

By Edward Stratton, Columbian staff writer


photoJack Carrier
photoHazel Dell Parade of Bands route

If you go

What: Hazel Dell Parade of Bands.

When: 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

Where: Hazel Dell.

Details: The 47th annual Parade of Bands has more than 140 entries, including 29 bands.

Brian Radke missed his unit’s Phoenix homecoming from Iraq in 2005, lying under the surgeon’s scalpel after a roadside bomb sent stinging hot shrapnel across his entire body and into his brain.

Now Hazel Dell, his original hometown, has given him and fellow Washington veteran Jack Carrier another welcome home, naming them grand marshals of the community’s 47th annual Parade of Bands, which begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

“We tend to put it in the back of our minds and don’t understand what they’re going through over there,” said Brad Lothspeich, parade committee co-chair.

The two former sergeants, who both left the military in August 2009, will travel in refurbished military vehicles as the parade goes down Hazel Dell Avenue, crosses Interstate 5 at the 63rd Street overpass, and turns up Highway 99 to Northeast 78th Street.

Max Muscle Sports Nutrition will hold a 5-kilometer run on the same route at 10:15 a.m.

Radke’s homecoming

Shrapnel from a roadside bomb peppered most of Radke’s body while he was on patrol in Baghdad in October 2005. That led to more than 26 months and 71 surgeries at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, then Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C. While surgeons repaired his body, he missed his 860th Military Police Company’s March 2006 return celebration in Arizona, where he lives with his wife Nova and daughter Nema.

“In a way, I kind of view it as a homecoming I never got back in Phoenix,” he said about being chosen as a grand marshal.

Radke grew up in Hazel Dell, played little league there, graduated from Columbia River and played for the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes baseball team in 1998. He eventually moved to Arizona for the weather and military police training, joined the army in 2003 and was deployed to Iraq in March 2005.

Radke said he still goes to the Veteran’s Administration hospital three to five times a week for vocational rehab and post-traumatic stress counseling. He studies at Arizona State University, volunteers for Tempe’s parks and recreation department and wants to eventually earn a psychology degree and counsel other soldiers.

Narrow escape

Carrier kept watch outside while other 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division “Raiders” searched a building northeast of Baghdad for insurgents in 2007. He was knocked over when an enemy sniper’s bullet ripped through the left side of his face and exited the right. He said the bullet would have killed him had it entered any higher.

“I just had a hand in my face and made sure I had my jaw and my tongue” Carrier said. “The only thing I found was a tooth in my mouth.”

A Stryker vehicle took him to Balad Air Force Base, before he was sent to Landstuhl and then to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. Carrier escaped the ordeal with only a dental implant and several minor oral surgeries at Fort Lewis.

Carrier grew up In Issaquah, graduating from Liberty High School. After being medically discharged, he lived in Woodland for 13 months before moving to Vancouver with wife Chelsea, daughter Payton and son Westley. He now takes classes at Clark College, will transfer to WSU Vancouver and wants to become a wildlife biologist.