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Plainfield Soldier Loses Foot in Afghan Explosion

Army Sgt. Will McKinney, a combat engineer team leader, was serving his third tour in the Middle East.

A Plainfield man lost his foot in a roadside bomb explosion Wednesday in Kandahar, Afghanistan, his father said Thursday.

Army Sgt. Will McKinney, 22, serving his third tour in the Middle East since enlisting in 2007, underwent surgery Wednesday and is in the intensive care unit of a U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, Charlie McKinney said. When he is able to be transported, he’ll be moved to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Will McKinney, a 2007 graduate of , is a combat engineer team leader whose job entails disarming improvised explosive devices known as IEDs.

Charlie McKinney learned of his son’s accident early Thursday morning when he received a call from the German hospital informing him of Will's injuries, which include a broken leg, McKinney said. He has not been able to speak to Will since his surgery, and did not know the details of the explosion.

“I had just plugged in (a new phone), and at 3 a.m. I hear this noise that I am not accustomed to hearing,” Charlie McKinney said.

“I ran downstairs and realized it was the phone. … This woman who didn’t speak good English starts telling me about Will, and I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to faint now.’ I think it was a good thing I didn’t know what the sound was because I didn’t have time to think.”

McKinney said he’s trying to remain positive and focused on the fact that Will could have been killed rather than just injured, since so few people survive encounters with roadside bombs, he said.

But he also knows his son’s dream of joining the Army Special Forces, which he’d just been accepted into, will not happen now, and that’s going to be a tough blow, he said.

Will McKinney grew up in Plainfield, and knew many people through , where his mother, the Rev. Mary Gay McKinney, formerly served as pastor. McKinney and his wife since have divorced; they also have a 23-year-old daughter who’s studying to be a Navy nuclear engineer and a 20-year-old daughter who’s a junior at Northern Illinois University.

Charlie McKinney said he talked to his son frequently via Facebook and through special military cell phones.

Although Will always spoke confidently about his job, he also always called his father before every mission to tell him he loved him. Charlie McKinley received just such a call earlier this week, he said.

In an attempt to assuage his father’s fears, “He’d always say, ‘I’ve got an advantage over everyone because I know what to watch for. … The people who get hurt are the ones who get sloppy or who weren’t paying attention,’ ” Charlie McKinley said.

What happens next is what he’s trying to prepare for, McKinley said. He does not know whether Will will want to continue in the military or if he’ll return home while he recuperates.

“These are the things he’ll have to figure out,” he said. “He’s going to have to adjust.”

Editor’s note: Charlie McKinley is an active volunteer with Help Save Pets and it’s him you see in the videos we post daily for the “” pet feature.

Marti Biggs September 09, 2011 at 07:20 PM
GOD BLESS WILL & HIS FAMILY Keep Plainfield residents posted when he will return to Plainfield so we can all give him a huge "WELCOME HOME PARADE"
Cathy September 10, 2011 at 08:04 PM
Wishing a speedy recover for Will and hope the family is reunited soon! Yes a welcome home parade is a definite must!
Genvieve LaChappele September 13, 2011 at 02:59 AM
God bless this man. We all need to pray for Will to have a strong network of love to help him through this HUGE challenge. One question though, Why did this article mention his parents divorce? Strange

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