Sgt. Richard Spearin is every bit the Multiple Launch Rocket System gunner as he stares out of a picture on a photo wall at Lemon Bay High School in Englewood, Fla. of former students now serving in the military around the world\
What makes the 1998 graduate of LBHSchool a standout among all the pictures is that the 22-year-old was seriously injured in Iraq while serving with the 39th Field Artillery attached to the 3rd Infantry Division a few days ago. He was flown back to Walter Reed Army Hospital, outside Washington, D.C., over the weekend on the same flight that brought Pfc. Jessica Lynch, also injured and later rescued by special forces, while being held as a POW for about 10 days.
According to Linda Griesmeyer, his mother-in-law to be, Spearin, “…was injured a little over a week ago and his buddy was killed.” They were involved in the 3rd Division’s attack on the Saddam Hussein Airport, just outside Baghdad on April 7, 2003, Monday, “…he’s had four surgeries since he was injured” in the firefight at what is now being called Baghdad International Airport with the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard units that were surrounding the capital city.
Spearin and her daughter, Bobbi Jean Griesmeyer, are engaged and expect to marry when she graduates from the University of South Florida in Tampa in May 2004. She graduated from Lemon Bay in 2000.
When Spearin was going to high school he was living with his mother in Rotonda. His mother and father, Ronald Spearin of Randolph, Mass. are divorced.
In a letter addressed to the “Students and Staff” of Lemon Bay the young sergeant wrote last December telling them about his experiences in the Middle East.
“Thank you all for the package of food and the letters. When a soldier is able to see just how much the community really does care it makes all that we have sacrificed more meaningful,” he noted.
“I am a Multiple Launch Rocket Systems Chief. My vehicle can shoot either 12 rockets or two missiles,” Spearin wrote. “I have two soldiers who work directly under me in the launcher, so I can’t afford to make any mistakes. We get along great and work together every day.
“I … have learned and accomplished a great deal in the last four years (in the Army). I’ve earned the Army parachutist badge, two Army commendation medals, four Army achievement medals, a good conduct medal and a few service ribbons. I have been stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., Camp Stanley, Korea and Fort Stewart, Ga., he wrote.
“The days here in the desert have been long and tiring. We are constantly training for what may or may not come,” he explained. “Some of you asked if I was scared to go to war. Honestly I am not.
“I believe in the reason I am here. I believe in our rights as citizens and I believe in all that our country stands for,” Spearin continued in his letter. “I do this because freedom is not free and I want freedom for my family and all Americans.”
Linda said Monday afternoon, “My daughter and I are flying up to Walter Reed on Wednesday night. His father will also be flying in from Boston. All three of us plan to see Richard in the hospital on Thursday morning, if everything goes as planned.
Exactly how Spearin was injured isn’t known precisely at this time. All Maj. Dan Williams, a public information specialist with the Army at the Department of Defense, would confirm Monday was that the sergeant was in command of a surface-to-surface rocket launcher and was injured while serving with the 3rd Infantry Division in Iraq. The details were given to his parents who weren’t available for comment.
Linda did add that he was still being given blood on his flight from Europe on Saturday in the plane. He also expects to be operated on several more times at Walter Reed. His recovery will take some time, she indicated.
“I talked to him last night on the phone,” she said. “I asked him how he was doing and he sad, ‘OK,’. I also know he’s getting the Purple Heart. It would be wonderful if President Bush could pin it on him.”
This story was first published in the Charlotte Sun newspaper, Port Charlotte, Fla. on Tuesday, April 15, 2003 and is republished with permission.
Click here to view the War Tales fan page on FaceBook.
Click here to search Veterans Records and to obtain information on retrieving lost commendations.
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be republished without permission. Links are encouraged.