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9:25am — Laguna Soldier Wounded

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Shot by sniper in Iraq, Army sgt. on the mend in D.C.

U.S. Army Sgt. Gary Sarracino, wounded in the head by a sniper in Iraq on June 5, is recovering at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C., the Cibola County Beacon reported on its Web site.

The 1996 graduate of Laguna-Acoma High School told the Beacon by phone from his hospital bed last week, "I’m feeling OK, doing better. I got shot on the right side of my head by a sniper, a 16-millimeter (bullet). Tell everyone back home that I’m OK."

Tracy Sarracino, the sergeant’s sister, told the Beacon that Army officials told the family that the sniper’s bullet shattered the orbit of her brother’s right eye and fractured his nose.

But she said that despite the severity of his wounds, he’s doing OK.

"He’s still Gary; nothing gets him down and he’ll be back to his old self soon," she told the Beacon.

Immediately after the shooting on June 5, Sarracino was flown to Germany for emergency treatment, then transferred to Walter Reed where he arrived June 7 and was operated on to remove the bullet that had lodged above his left eye, the Beacon reported.

Sarracino, who had been scheduled to go on leave June 9, told the Beacon that doctors had repaired fractures to his skull and that he had begun physical therapy.

He had been scheduled for discharge from the Army in nine months after his tour of duty in Iraq was done.

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