Hendrickson is recovering in Maryland
Navy Reserve 1st Class Petty Officer Ken Hendrickson is recovering
slowly but surely in a hospital in Bethesda, Md., after his Humvee
hit an improvised roadside bomb on June 5.
A Rosemount resident and member of the Farmington American Legion,
Hendrickson was one of two survivors of the incident which occurred
in the Al Anbar Province. He was initially transported to Baghdad,
then to a hospital in Germany. Last Wednesday, he was moved to the
Ken sustained a number of injuries, including multiple broken bones
(both legs and pelvis) and burst a lumbar vertebrae. He has a few
pieces of bone in the spinal canal and there was some damage to his
His wife, Jill, her mother and Ken's parents joined him in Maryland
on Thursday. Jill has been checking in with friends back home, giving
The latest update came Monday evening. In a half hour conversation
with the couple's friend, Matt Pannier, who is staying at their home
while Jill is gone, Jill said Kenny is starting to get restless. He
was on a ventilator for the first few days, strapped down to the bed
to prohibit him from moving his legs and body. Doctors cannot cast
Ken's legs yet because he has open wounds that must first heal.
In the last few days, the doctors have been weaning Ken off of
sedation, so he has been able to talk with Jill when he is awake,
though he is still very sleepy. Over the weekend he was alert enough
to joke about the picks Pannier made for the Legion's NASCAR pool -
apparently, Ken was not impressed.
A CAT scan was planned for Monday night to determine if there are any
blood clots in Ken's system, and Ken was scheduled for the first
surgery on his back on Tuesday.
Jill does not know how long she will be in Maryland, but expects to
stay for a few weeks at least before she returns home. Ideally, when
Ken is ready, she would like to have him transported to Minnesota's
VA hospital so he can be closer to home.
Hendrickson, 43, was called to serve in Operation Enduring Freedom in
December, and left for his training on Jan. 15. He served in the Navy
and Navy Reserves for 16 years before being deployed to Iraq.
He is a Utilitiesman in the Navy's construction battalion division,
but has extensive weapons training from earlier in his Navy career.
He was first assigned to active duty in 1980, when he was on the USS
America, which was deployed as the U.S.'s response to the Iranian
It was his long history with the Navy, and his weapons training, that
qualified him for the convoy unit he was assigned to in Iraq. While
in training for his assignment, Ken was named as a gunner, which
meant he rode in a Humvee with guns attached to the top, and he was
responsible to use those weapons if necessary.
It was that assignment which may have saved his life. When his Humvee
struck the roadside bomb, he was riding out the top of the unit, and
was thrown to the ground. Two other sailors inside the Humvee were
killed. A fourth sailor was also thrown from the Humvee; he sustained
a broken shoulder.
Hendrickson has been sharing his experiences with the Farmington
Independent through telephone calls and e-mails since January.