Jared Rhine, 26, a member of the 1139th Missouri Army National Guard of Harrisonville, was injured following an explosion June 30 during night patrol in Baghdad, said his aunt, Vicky Bassham of Salem.
His mother, Phyllis Rhine of Caulfield, Mo., said her son's unit was on patrol when a grenade or bomb exploded, knocking him unconscious. He is a gunner who rides on the back of military vehicles.
His unit was traveling in a convoy on a three-lane highway when the explosive was thrown. Rhine said a civilian in another vehicle was killed.
Fellow soldiers feared Rhine was dead after he slumped over following the blast, Mrs. Rhine said.
She and her husband, Jerry, found out about their son's injuries July 2. An officer from Fort Riley, Kan., informed the couple their son had suffered loss of hearing in both ears.
"We were grateful it knocked him unconscious for only a short while," Mrs. Rhine said.
Rhine was sent to a specialist in Germany July 5 where he underwent two days of testing. Doctors reported he had suffered a 22-percent hearing loss in both ears, Mrs. Rhine said.
The couple was allowed to speak to Rhine while he was in Germany. Mrs. Rhine said he had troubling hearing what she was saying.
Until his hearing loss was evaluated Rhine was not sure if he would be shipped home. Mrs. Rhine said he was afraid to get his hopes up.
He received orders July 14 to report back to Baghdad. Had he have suffered a loss of hearing of 52 percent or more he would have been sent home, Mrs. Rhine said.
Rhine lives with his bride, Pam, in West Plains. His daughters, Shelbi, 5, and Sara, 7, reside in Salem, Mo.
Rhine's father served in Saudi Arabia in 1990 and 1991. During his two-year stint Rhine placed yellow ribbons at home for his father. Now Rhine's father is placing yellow ribbons around their home in honor of the soldiers and his son, Mrs. Rhine said.
Rhine has been exposed to more fighting than his father. "He has seen more than his share of encounters. It's kind of hard to swallow sometimes," she added.
Her son has been with his unit for over a year. He started with from the 1138th Missouri Army National Guard in February of 1998.
Mrs. Rhine said her son has mixed feeling about Iraq. He told her the people are crazy and will kill for a few dollars.
Rhine's unit camped across the street from Saddam Hussein's palaces. He told her it was a shame the buildings had been destroyed. He told her blood was smeared along the walls. "We are lucky to live in a free country," Rhine told his mother.
Soldiers have to be on guard continually because each fears an enemy soldier walking up and shooting them, Mrs. Rhine said.
Rhine was active in Future Farmers of American while he attended West Plains High School between 1991 and 1994. He received his GED diploma in 1995.
Rhine's wife writes to him every day. She tries to stay busy working and taking care of their children.
"We need to continue to pray for our soldiers and know they are doing this for us," Mrs. Rhine said.