By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Somewhere among the flowers and balloons, the get well cards and the "Welcome Home" banner, the pain management brochures and the newspaper clippings, Pfc. Adam McLain is adjusting to life at home.
"It's been great," he said this morning, standing on crutches in the kitchen of his parents' home. "Everyone has been really supportive."
McLain returned to Havre following a three-week stay in a military hospital in Washington, D.C. He was granted a 30-day leave from the Army National Guard and arrived in Havre at 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.
"I was pretty tired when I got here," he said. "I was still on Eastern time. It was 4:30 in the morning to me."
McLain's tour in Iraq with the 143rd Military Police Detachment came to an abrupt end Sept. 4 when he was struck by a Humvee. The accident shattered his right leg and ankle, and fractured his skull.
McLain, whose parents are Bruce and Mary McLain, said he has enjoyed being able to sleep in his own bed and have home-cooked meals.
"I've just been resting alot," he said. "I had chicken enchiladas last night. My dad's a pretty good cook."
During the next few weeks, McLain said he plans to catch up with family and friends and "probably catch a Pony game."
The diehard Cowboys fan said he was able to follow his team while in the hospital.
"They finally have a winning record this year," he said.
McLain was not the only person in his unit injured in Iraq. Aaron Birkholz, 19, of Lincoln was traveling in a military caravan Sept. 8 in Baghdad when a makeshift bomb exploded near his vehicle. He suffered a broken arm and shrapnel wounds to the upper right thigh and left arm.
McLain said he to plans to visit Birkholz while on leave. The two met at Fort Benning, Ga., where their Bozeman-based unit was sent April 1 before it left for Iraq.
At the end of his leave, McLain will return to Fort Benning for additional treatment. He will be deactivated after a medical evaluation, he said.
"They have to take me off active status," he said. "I'm not sure how long they'll want to keep me after that."
McLain said his injuries will likely require lengthy treatment.
"My face will have some scarring," he said. "My leg is feeling a lot better. The metal pins will be taken out here in a couple weeks. My hearing is still pretty shot."
McLain was initially sent to a military hospital in Germany following the accident. There, doctors attempted to repair his leg and drained fluid from his head. Next he was airlifted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Last month, the army flew his parents to visit him. The pair accompanied him back to Havre.
"They stayed the whole time, so that was really good," he said.
While in the hospital, McLain received some distinguished visitors. Among them were President Bush, U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., and rock 'n' roller Stephen Stills.
The 143rd MP Detachment was deployed to the Middle East in June. The unit's role is to train an Iraqi civilian police force, McLain said. In addition to security detail, the unit teaches police tactics to Iraqi citizens and distributes weapons and badges, he said.
Now that the war is over for McLain, the 1999 graduate of Havre High School said he would like to return to college. Before enlisting last fall, McLain was enrolled as an accounting major at the University of Montana.
"I'd like to get back to school," he said. "Probably Missoula, but we'll see what happens."
Standing amid flowers and cards from well-wishers, McLain said he has appreciated the outpouring of support from friends and family.
"I just really want to say thank you to everyone who has sent letters and cards," he said. "Thank you for the support."
McLain encouraged people to support the soldiers who are still in Iraq.
"I'm a little worried about my unit over there," McLain said. "I would really like people to give them some support, too."
Letters or packages for McLain's unit may be sent to:
143rd MP detachment
ATO, AE 09302
Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.