Local woman injured in Baghdad blast

Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Sarah Latona is recovering from wounds suffered in a car-bomb attack in Baghdad Saturday.

Sara Latona, 42, of Mountain Home, was seriously injured in a car-bomb attack in Baghdad Saturday.

Latona, a civilian clerk working for AAFES, suffered multiple shrapnel wounds to her right leg, hip, side, arm, face and eye when a car bomb exploded next to the bus she had been driving while delivering supplies and some military members from Kuwait to the "Green Zone" area in Baghdad. The explosion occurred near the Green Zone, a "secure" enclave in Baghdad that contains the area's military headquarters.

She was flown to the Defense Department's Regional Military Center in Landstuhl, Germany, for initial treatment, and is expected to be transferred to Walter Reed Hospital in the United States later this week.

Latona, and her husband, Carl, and their son, Paul, 15, moved to the area eight years ago. She has worked for AAFES for seven years.

Her husband said her most serious injury appears to be to her eye. He said a cornea transplant is expected to be done when she arrives at Walter Reed.

Carl, who is self-employed in the manufactured homes industry, said he was returning from a convention in Las Vegas Saturday night when his wife called him on his cell phone to tell him about the attack. But the call kept breaking up in the mountains through which he was driving at the time and he couldn't make out what she was saying. He didn't learn of the attack and her injuries until he returned home and found a message on his answering machine from her boss.

Mrs. Latona had worked for AAFES (the Army and Air Force Exchange Service) in Kuwait during the invasion of Iraq and spent 18 months there, delivering supplies twice a week from Kuwait to Baghdad, a ten-hour trip. "She was there when the SCUDs were flying over her head," her husband said, noting, "she's got more (courage) than I have."

She returned home about five months ago, but according to her husband, "her heart wasn't at home. She really felt she was doing something for the troops. She felt she had a greater calling," and after talking it over with her family volunteered to go back for another tour. She was about two weeks into that second tour when she was injured.

Monday, Latona said he had been able to talk to his wife twice since the incident, and "she seems like she's in pretty good shape," but he isn't sure how long she will be hospitalized before she can come home.

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