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MailTribune.com
  • Medford soldier in coma

    Family, friends pray for combat engineer injured in Afghanistan blast
  • Army Sgt. Tom Rollason of Medford is in critical condition in a U.S. military hospital in Germany after he was injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan on Sunday.
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  • Army Sgt. Tom Rollason of Medford is in critical condition in a U.S. military hospital in Germany after he was injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan on Sunday.
    Rollason, 43, a member of the 569th Combat Engineers/4th Engineer Division, remained in a coma late Friday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center near the Ramstein Air Base in Germany.
    His father, Thomas F. Rollason, 67, died after a long battle with cancer in North Versailles, Pa., a day after the sergeant was injured by the roadside bomb near Kandahar.
    The soldier's wife, Sandee, flew to Germany to be with her husband, according to Sandee's brother, Johnny Cordero of Medford. Cordero is the pastor at the Lambs Home Fellowship in Medford, which Rollason attended when he was home.
    The Rollasons have three grown children, daughter Elijah Rollason, Eagle Point, and sons Joshua Rollason of Medford and Tim Rosenberg of Kennewick, Wash.
    Cordero, who is in telephone contact with Sandee, described the soldier as his "best friend" as well as his brother-in-law.
    "He's a good, good man," Cordero said. "They don't make them like him too often."
    Although information about Rollason's injuries is sparse, Cordero said the sergeant was taken to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan after he was injured. He was deployed to Afghanistan from Iraq in February, Cordero said.
    "They took him to Kandahar as quickly as they could but they couldn't move him at first," he said, noting the site was under attack after the IED exploded. Cordero was apparently in a convoy when the bomb erupted.
    He was injured Sunday morning our time but Monday in Afghanistan, Cordero said.
    "We don't know too much more at this point but we have just learned that he may be flown to Walter Reed Hospital as early as Sunday if they can get him stabilized," he said of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. "That's good news."
    The sergeant was able to fly home on emergency leave to visit his father in Pennsylvania in August, Cordero said.
    "He left on very good terms with his father, who had inoperable cancer," he said.
    News of Rollason's injury has devastated his friends, said Joe York, a Navy reservist from Rogue River who served in the Seabees with Rollason in Iraq in 2006-07. Rollason later joined the regular Army after he completed his hitch in the Navy Reserve.
    "When we heard we were being activated and going to Iraq, Tom was the guy we wanted with us," York said. "With Tom, you knew you had a good person with you that you could count on.
    "He walks softly and carries a big stick," he added. "He's one of those quiet guys with a great sense of humor and infectious smile. His smile always makes you feel good."
    Central Point resident Ed Cobb, who also served with Rollason in the Seabees' Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 18 in Iraq, agreed.
    "When we came back, some of us were pretty busted up," he said. "Tom joined the Army right after that. All through the Army training and all the other things he was going through at the time, he would call me to see how I was doing."
    During their tour in Iraq, Rollason, a steel worker by training, worked with Cobb drilling wells for the Iraqi people.
    "You couldn't get a more squared-away guy," Cobb said. "He is a genuinely selfless person who is always ready to help. Everyone respects him."
    Known as "Rolly" by his friends, Rollason worked at Biomass One in White City for several years. He launched his military career as a Navy diver and underwater welder. He later joined the Naval Reserve and became a steelworker in the Seabees.
    Contributions to help the family can be made in his name at local U.S. Bank branches as well as Rogue Federal Credit Union, Cordero said. Biomass One already has donated $1,000 to the Tom Rollason fund, friends said.
    "Tom took a huge cut in pay when he went into the Army," Cordero explained. "They've got a huge mortgage and they were just making it as it was.
    "Tom is not the kind of guy who likes to sit still," he added. "He was always helping people. He'd tune up a car or go in and fix the plumbing. He's going to need our help now."
    Danny and Debra Hanger of Medford, who are close friends of the Rollasons, agreed.
    "He's a wonderful, wonderful man," Debra said. "This is going to be a very, very long road to recovery for him."
    Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.
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