After Suffering Serious Wounds in Iraq Attack, Soldier May Soon Be Transferred Back to US for Treatment

January 5, 2024
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Garrett Illerbrunn poses for a photo with family

A soldier who was critically wounded alongside two other troops during a drone attack in Iraq nearly two weeks ago will return to the U.S. to receive further medical treatment, friends and family told Military.com on Thursday.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Garrett Illerbrunn was being treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany after being transported from Baghdad following the attack. As of Tuesday, Illerbrunn was in a coma, but was able to respond to external stimuli and could breathe on his own, according to a GoFundMe started by his friends and verified as connected to the family by Military.com.

During the drone attack, which occurred on Christmas, a piece of shrapnel struck Illerbrunn in the head, “lodging from about his temple to almost the back end of his ear; hitting the motor function area of his brain,” according to the GoFundMe page.

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“While Garrett’s recovery is in progress, he’s in the acute phase and needs to be medically cleared,” Lorna, Illerbrunn’s wife, told Military.com in an emailed statement. “Progress is ever-changing and Garrett needs more evaluation before being able to fly home. Since this is a devastating neurological injury, the flight to Walter Reed is currently delayed but hopeful for next week.”

Lorna added that the intensive care team at Landstuhl has “been amazing” and that she has been in contact with medical personnel there and at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, “every day.” The military newspaper Stars and Stripes reported that Landstuhl said Illerbrunn was in stable condition and receiving treatment on Wednesday.

A Defense Department official also confirmed to Military.com that Illerbrunn was the soldier wounded in the drone attack on Christmas, which also wounded two other soldiers and was claimed by Iranian-backed militias.

The U.S. carried out retaliatory strikes against Iranian-backed militias the same day. Service members in Iraq and Syria have come under attack more than 100 times since Hamas launched a surprise attack against Israel in early October, triggering a war in the Gaza Strip and plunging the region into instability.

Melissa Young, the GoFundMe organizer and a family friend of the Illerbrunns, told Military.com on Thursday that they had all met through the military community in Pinehurst, North Carolina, outside of Fort Liberty.

“They’re just such a great community, volunteering family; they make sure to just be there for their kiddo as much as they can,” Young said. So far, the GoFundMe has raised more than $77,000.

“Now, we’re at the stage where we just want to be able to give a little buffer for Lorna, as she’s obviously going to be out of work for a while and needs to concentrate on being with Garrett,” she said.

“And there’s gonna be lots of travel back and forth to Walter Reed, and I know the military takes care of all that — it’s the extra added pressure, we wanted to make sure that that’s taken off of her shoulders,” Young said.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said on the social media site X on Dec. 27 that Illerbrunn is a native of Langdon, a town in that state, and that he shared gratitude with Garrett’s father, Brad, “for his son’s courageous service.”

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