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Ozzy Osbourne Visits Wounded Soldiers (9/26/2006)

Brian Saaristo and Nick Paupore of Clarksville, Tenn., were injured in the same improvised explosive device blast on the streets of Kirkuk, Iraq.

Today, they are recovering together at Walter Reed, living in the same hall at the Mologne House on the Walter Reed campus.

Paupore lost his right leg above the knee, and his injury has been slower to heal. By late August he was still waiting to be fitted for a computerized prosthesis, commonly called a C-leg.

One morning, after Saaristo had practiced walking on his own prostheses, the two parked their wheelchairs side by side and talked about their injuries.

“Have you ever thought about where your feet are?’’ Paupore asked Saaristo. “I would have liked to have had my leg, to burn it or bury it back here. It’s probably in a big pile somewhere."

The conversation turned a little lighter when Saaristo slipped a “shrinker" — what amputees call the tight, springy bandages that compress the ends of their limbs — over his head.

“We could rob stores" Paupore said, delighted.

“We’re the wheelchair bandits," Saaristo said, grinning.

Celebrities, athletes and dignitaries frequently visit Walter Reed Army Medical Center to meet the soldiers.

Rock icon Ozzy Osbourne dropped by Saaristo’s bedside, as did one of today’s more famous— and notorious — baseball players.

“I don’t know who this is, do you?" Saaristo asks, pulling out a Polaroid snapshot and a signed baseball.

Sitting on the hospital bed next to Saaristo in the photo is San Francisco Giants slugger and frequent sourpuss Barry Bonds.


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