Fort Lewis soldier undeterred after near-fatal blast in Iraq

The News TribuneJanuary 3, 2010 

TALLIL, Iraq — Last year, Jed Berman noticed a piece of metal lodged under his left index finger, a remnant of the shrapnel that tore through his body during a roadside bomb attack in 2004.

The Fort Lewis soldier didn't tell anyone before he deployed; removing it would require yet another surgery, and he worried it would keep him home.

“I didn’t really want anyone to have an excuse to stamp me undeployable,” said Berman, a sergeant first class with the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade. “I can’t help it. I’m a big meathead. I love what I do.”

Doctors cut the fragment out in October, shortly after he arrived at Contingency Operating Base Adder in southeastern Iraq to serve as the 201st Brigade’s intelligence section platoon sergeant. During an interview last week on the roof of his brigade’s headquarters building – in full view of the historic Ziggurat of Ur – the 36-year-old California native showed visitors the scars that run across his body from the near-fatal attack.

His reputation among fellow soldiers of the brigade seems equally hard-boiled.

“He won’t take any crap from anyone,” said Maj. Victoria Campbell, a DuPont resident serving as the brigade’s intelligence officer “If someone has the wrong answer on something, pretty much no matter who they are, he’ll tell them that.”

The 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade has about 1,000 soldiers working on intelligence operations throughout Iraq, and the brigade’s intel section operates as a fusion cell to analyze the reports coming in from across the country. About 300 soldiers serve in Tallil, with the rest scattered to about 38 locations across the country.

But it was during a deployment with Fort Lewis’ 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division when the bomb attack almost killed Berman.

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