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HAMMOND, Ind. (CBS) — His survival is nothing short of amazing, but the road to recovery for Indiana National Guardsman Doug Rachowicz is just beginning.
Rachowicz, 30, was the only one to survive a roadside blast in Afghanistan on Jan. 6. CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports he is making progress, but still doesn’t know his four fellow guardsmen are dead.
The Indiana National Guard private’s family describes him as confident, strong and stubborn. But earlier this month, a roadside bomb almost killed him.
“They didn’t know anybody was alive,” said his niece, Stephanie Gober, “until he climbed out of the truck and he was trying to crawl around and stuff and the onsite medics were luckily right behind him.”
The medics rushed to help him. Gober says the blast broke her uncle’s back, crushed his pelvis, nose, forehead and chin and left him with one bruised and one bleeding lung and a tracheotomy.
Gober says Rachowicz’s survival is nothing short of a miracle considering that same blast killed four fellow guardsmen. But Rachowicz doesn’t know that yet. Family members expect to tell him about their deaths tomorrow.
“Broken bones will heal,” says Gober. “but with learning something like that, we don’t know how he’s going to take it.”
Rachowicz is now recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center. His family is raising money to help pay for his two children’s schooling and the cost of keeping a family member or his pregnant fiancée at his bedside during the rough road ahead.
Gober says there will be a $3 all-you-can-eat taco fundraiser at VFW Post 7881, 6831 Kennedy Avenue, Hammond, Ind., on February 6th and another fundraiser March 24th at the Hessville VFW Hall.
There is also an account at Chase Bank, ‘Stephanie Gober for Douglas Rachowicz’, for anyone who wants to contribute.