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Purple Heart recipient Michael TROUT

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Purple Heart recipient Michael TROUT

Carol Movahed (View posts)
Posted: 1132025794000
Classification: Military
Edited: 1132277583000
Surnames: trout, keough, mayes, hudson, clark, bleyer, genard, martino, radocaj,
From the Pittsburgh [PA] Tribune-Review, 3/21/1991:

"Reservist gets hero's homecoming"
By Martin Kinnunen

Michael Trout was confined to a hospital bed when members of his decimated Army Reserve unit, the 14th Quartermaster Detachment, returned home for a joyous March 9 celebration and motorcade that stretched from Latrobe to Greensburg.

Yesterday, hundreds of flag-waving students, neighbors and friends made up for the festivities Trout missed earlier this mouth.

Trout was honored during a surprise homecoming staged outside his parents' home along St. Andrews Drive in West Point, Hempfield Township.

The 21-year-old sergeant suffered ear damage and shrapnel wounds when an Iraqi Scud missile struck the 14th QM's barracks near Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

The Feb. 25 attack killed 13 members of the Greensburg-based 14th; another 37 unit members were injured.

Some 350 members of the Wendover Middle School band and chorus performed patriotic music as a chauffeured car drove Trout and his wife, Sharon, to his parents' home.

The couple was married Feb. 2 in a civil ceremony near Fort Lee, Va. The 14th QM, a water-purification unit, trained at Fort Lee before it left for Saudi Arabia on Feb. 18.

Two unit members, Spc. Frank S. Keough, 22, of North Huntingdon, and Spc. Christine L. Mayes, 23, of Rochester Mills, Indiana County, were witnesses for the wedding. Keough and Mayes were killed in the missile attack.

Hundreds of other students from the middle school and West Point Elementary lined St. Andrews Drive and waved flags as the car, escorted by a police cruiser and fire engine, pulled into the Trouts' driveway.

The guest of honor said the homecoming was "overwhelming" as he stepped out of the car and embraced his mother, Marilyn.

Trout later thanked the crowd, saying the homecoming had brought him joy. "That's something I haven't felt for quite a while now," said Trout, who hopes to resume work on a degree in psychology this summer.

"This beats the desert any day," he added. "I'll never forget this."

Trout was showered with gifts. Shirley Hudson, a neighbor who organized the homecoming, gave Trout a figurine of a mouse. It was a fitting gift because Trout's life was probably saved by a mouse.

Trout was playing Trivial Pursuit with his buddies shortly before the missile hit the barracks.

Keough, one of the participants, had found a dead mouse and began teasing Spc. Beverly S. Clark, 23, of Armagh, Indiana County, with it. But Trout's fear of mice prompted him to leave the group.

Moments later, the missile hit the barracks, killing six of the eight soldiers including Clark.

Trout was an Army cook and held a part-time job at the Ovenworks Bakery and Deli in the West Point Plaza.

"He is like my second son," Hudson said of Trout. "I've known him since he was 3" when the Trout family moved to West Point.

Trout was given yellow roses by a second-grade class at West Point Elementary. Teacher Bernie Bleyer said one of the students, Melissa Genard, had designed a Valentine's card and sent it to Trout. Each student had included a message in the card.

The class presented yellow roses to remember brothers and fathers who have yet to return from military service in the Persian Gulf, Bleyer said. A flag was presented by Cub Scout Pack 416.

Trout's family had expected him to return on Wednesday. His return on Monday threatened to ruin the surprise homecoming.

Trout was discharged this week from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he was awarded the Purple Heart on March 6. Members of the Destroyers, Trout's fraternity at California University of Pennsylvania, had driven to the medical facility in northern Washington, D.C., and brought him home on Monday.

To keep the homecoming a surprise, Hudson had arranged for Trout and his wife to go out for breakfast Wednesday morning. Joe Martino, owner of Fantasy Limousine Service, chauffeured them to a restaurant at no charge. Martino said he offered the free service because his cousin, Sgt. Mike Radocaj of Carbon, Hempfield Township, is also a member of the 14th QM. Radocaj was not injured in the missile attack.

As dozens of school children crowded around him to shake his hand, Trout recalled his experiences during the missile attack.

"I remember the explosion. I remember getting up," he said. With blood pouring from shrapnel wounds on his face, Trout helped one soldier get back on his feet and helped another search for a missing pair of eyeglasses.

"People pulled together to get everyone out quickly," Trout said.

The fire apparently ignited some ammunition, and Trout remembers thinking, "Someone is shooting at us."

At that point, he was grabbed by the shirt and led out of the barracks. He stepped on something so hot it burned through his boot.

He was placed on a waiting bus. Trout recalled that he and others yelled at the Saudi driver who seemed lost or confused.

Trout is scheduled to return to Walter Reed in three weeks, at which time doctors plan to examine his perforated eardrums. They are already healing, he said, adding that he hopes they won't require surgery.

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