The last thing you would expect to see when flying into Beijing on a cargo plane is a gold medalist in a war medicine class, but that is what happened to one United States soldier preparing for his medal presentation at the Beijing Olympics.
The soldier, Lance Cpl. Matthew Badger, was coming back home from an intensive rehabilitation session when a plume of smoke erupted over his home. The United States Army Medical Brigade in Baghdad sent him to the hospital in Beijing to treat his “freaking out reaction” from seeing this particular photo while visiting his sick friend, Sgt. Andrew Job. Upon arriving in Beijing, Badger was rushed into the terminal by medics.
“He received some epidural from the head trauma, tetanus shots, and chest X-rays, but his uncle, Mark Badger, says his uncle was shocked when the flight attendants told him he had to fly on a cargo plane back to the States.”
Upon his arrival in the United States, Badger was informed his gold medal was confiscated from him by the United States Army.
“At the point I flew home I put the medal away,” Badger said. “But since then I’ve asked for it. They gave me some paperwork as if they were planning to release it. But no one has actually called me or indicated that I can have it. I’m hoping that if I get back to the U.S. by April or May I will have a conversation with someone in the United States Army who will be able to tell me exactly what is going on. It is just so frustrating.”
While returning to the United States, soldiers from the 106th Medical Brigade were sent to film Badger’s recovery. In his rehabilitation program he was listening to a lot of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Bad Moon Rising.”
“It was, to me, all for the team. The band is amazing,” Badger said. “And, you know, it all sounds pretty patriotic and pretty awesome but there was a lot of (fear for the soldiers and public health officials), there was uncertainty about what might happen to the medics who were bringing him home. But, at the end of the day they did the right thing. I couldn’t really be prouder of the team, the medic and the medics for what they did and still for their reactions.”