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B-N resident hurt in Iraq attends speech

B-N resident hurt in Iraq attends speech

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Despite suffering two broken legs, and hip and wrist injuries, National Guard Capt. Troy O'Donley believes he got off easy in Iraq.

"I think of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country," he said.

With that in mind, O'Donley, who was invited to attend President Bush's State of the Union address Tuesday, knew what he wanted to hear: "Support the troops."

The Bloomington resident was chosen to be a guest of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., at the Capitol. The senator previously announced he would invite two Illinois veterans of the Iraq war.

"These young Illinois soldiers have given so much in service to our nation. I think it is only fitting that they come here tonight and be a part of that special moment in our nation's history - the State of the Union address," Durbin said earlier Tuesday.

O'Donley, who works for State Farm Insurance Cos. in Bloomington, continues to undergo medical treatment in Washington, D.C.

He said he thinks he was chosen by Durbin for honor because "I'm an Illinois citizen hurt in combat and I'm here in D.C."

O'Donley said it is "highly unlikely" that he would be able to return to the battlefield. He has had four surgeries and "is going on two more."

He lives in officer's quarters at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he's being treated on an outpatient basis.

The commander of the 1544th Transportation Company of the Illinois National Guard based in Paris, Ill., said he still wants to continue serving the National Guard in some capacity.

"If I can't get back, I'll find a way to support those in the battlefield," he said, adding that he's served 16 years in the unit.

The 33-year-old was wounded in April 2004 when his convoy was ambushed.

A native of Evansville, Ind., O'Donley was raised in Grayville and joined the Illinois National Guard in 1990.

He was hired by State Farm in Bloomington in 1998 and works as a team leader in the customer response center.

O'Donley said it was hard to comment on military progress in Iraq because he's been removed from the battlefield for a while.

A spokeswoman for Durbin said the senator supports soldiers such as O'Donley but is a critic of the Bush war strategy and of intelligence misinformation that led to the war.

Besides O'Donley, Durbin also was hosting an Illinois soldier from Chicago at the State of the Union address.


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