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Mother of MN Soldier Injured in Afghanistan: I Can't Give Him a Hug

Updated: 01/24/2014 7:32 AM
Created: 01/23/2014 4:11 PM KSTP.com
By: Josh Rosenthal

The wait started last July when Robbie Sheets left for Afghanistan.

At the time, Sheets told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, "You have to be the hero, you have to be the tough guy. At the same time, you have to say goodbye to family and friends."

Kim Schwich, Sheets' mom, knew there was a chance the deployment ceremony would be the last time she'd see her son. Sheets' Litchfield-based National Guard unit was sent overseas to clear mines and other explosives.

"Pretty much it's a waiting game. We wait every day and hopefully we can hear more," Schwich said Thursday. "I mean I sleep with the phone. I mean, literally, I sleep with the phone right next to my bed now. So I'm waiting for him to call."

But there are some calls that will keep a mother up at night. "You're always telling yourself that you're never going to receive this phone call, and honestly, these are the phone calls that are kind of like your nightmare to receive," Schwich said.

Her call came Monday morning. It was from Sheets. He said he was in an Afghanistan hospital, hit with shrapnel in his back and legs.

Schwich recalled asking, "What happened? He said, 'I can't tell you anymore.'" Eventually the concerned mother found out on the news. Sheets' base had been attacked. One American soldier died. Five others from Minnesota -- including Sheets -- were injured.

"It almost made you nauseous because now it's almost real," Schwich said. "You kind of experience that this is what your son went through, and even though he's 29, your mom is still your mom. Your mom mode is still there."

Schwich hasn't talked to Sheets since that first call. She waits by the phone and logs onto Facebook to see if he's sent a message.

"That's actually our last hug goodbye before he got on the bus and left," she said, pointing to a picture taken at the July deployment ceremony. "It's kind of emotional at this point to look at that picture and not wish that we were there, you know, to do this again."

So Schwich does the same thing she's done since July. Wait.

"There's nothing I can do. I can't make this better. I can't give him a hug. I can't pick up the phone and talk to him when I want to," she explained. "I just have to sit back and wait."
Schwich hopes her wait finally ends in July of 2014, that's when Sheets is scheduled to come back home.

Right now, we still don't know the names of the other Minnesota-based soldiers who were injured in the attack. The National Guard says regulations prevent them from releasing that information.

Watch an extended interview with Schwich here.


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