North Tahoe graduate injured in Iraq | SierraSun.com

North Tahoe graduate injured in Iraq

Joanna Hartman
Sierra Sun

Courtesy imageMike Thornton, a 2001 North Tahoe High School graduate, was injured Sept. 16 in Iraq.

Staff Sgt. Mike Thornton was scheduled to end his Army service by spring. And while he is still due out by March or April, it will be after nearly six months in recovery from second and third-degree burns to his knees, face and hands.

Thornton, a 2001 graduate from North Tahoe High School, was injured Sept. 16 with three other soldiers outside Baghdad when their Humvee was hit by two improvised explosive devices.

Thornton, 23, and two of the other soldiers injured by one of five bombs that exploded around their vehicle received medical care at the Brooks Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

“Our son and the two with him are doing great and are out of the hospital,” said Michael Thornton, Mike Thornton’s father, of Tahoe City. “With all the negative things you hear about our military, my wife and I just wanted to let you know about the good and how they treat the families of our soldiers.”

After chemical peels and skin grafts from his thighs to his hands, Thornton is still recovering in San Antonio.

“He looks like himself,” his father said.

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The Thorntons said the Department of Defense called three or four times each day to let the family know how their son was holding up and the status of his care. And Thornton’s parents made it to Texas for a visit four weeks ago.

Thornton is due back to Tahoe for a visit on his 30-day leave.

“These [nurses and doctors] see this every day but they treat each patient as if they are the only one. These folks are so dedicated and loyal and so full of support and praise for our troops,” said Michael Thornton.

Mike Thornton and his wife, Hallie, 21, were serving together in Iraq at the time of the accident. They met in the Army at Ft. Hood and have been married since November 2005. And though Thornton will not return to Iraq before his service expires, Hallie has two years left on her contract and could indeed return to Iraq, said Michael Thornton.

Thornton has been serving in the Army for almost six years, his dad said, and is based in Ft. Hood, Texas.

Thornton was an Explorer with Placer County sheriffs when he was a student in North Tahoe, and originally joined the Army for an education and to get into law enforcement. Thornton’s father said he thinks law enforcement is still his plan.

The Thornton family has lived in Tahoe City for 15 years.

“We would also like to say a big ‘thank you’ to all our friends and extended family here for all your love, support and prayers,” Michael Thornton said.