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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

United States.

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

updates frequently.

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.

About Kenny

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

hostage crisis.

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.