Wounded Times

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chief Warrant Officer's worst enemy turned out to be burning garbage

Burn pit exposure cuts Poquoson soldier's career short
January 13, 2013
By Hugh Lessig
POQUOSON

Before he got sick, before the tremors, memory lapses and surgeries, Chief Warrant Officer Jeff Lamprecht guarded his buddies from an Apache attack helicopter, with Hellfire missiles at his fingertips.

The 40-year-old Poquoson native completed four combat deployments from 2003 to 2010: three to Iraq and one to Afghanistan.

He'd go back tomorrow if he could.

The narrow front seat of the lethal gunship was his second home, surrounded by laser range finders and target designators, a video monitor near his lap, a side-mounted helmet camera that offered a view similar to a two-way mirror.

That kind of multitasking and razor-sharp communication would be impossible today. Lamprecht can't feel much below his knees, and the simple act of standing up can make him dizzy.

"Sometimes my feet don't do what I want them to," he said. "I'll stammer my tongue. I know what I want to say, but my tongue just vapor-locks and I won't make the word."

He can't blame the Taliban or al-Qaida, and it wasn't battle stress or nerves.

His worst enemy turned out to be burning garbage.
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