A recent South Medford High School graduate has endured two emergency surgeries after he was shot this week while serving in Afghanistan.
Cody Smith, who graduated in 2009 and played on the football team, is able to communicate with nurses at a hospital near Bagram, an ancient city about 60 miles north of Kabul, according to his father, Chris Smith.
Smith was shot in the abdomen by insurgents while taking part in an operation in the northern section of Afghanistan, his father said.
"We still don't know much about what happened," Chris Smith said. "We do know that he needed a second surgery and that it went well."
Smith was scheduled to leave the war zone and head to Germany, but doctors in Afghanistan determined he was unfit to travel until after the second surgery.
Smith is unable to speak because he has tubes down his throat supplying supplemental air, his father said.
"We are hoping that we will be able to speak with him soon," Chris Smith said.
Smith joined the Army immediately after graduating from South Medford and has served in the 101st Airborne Division since 2009.
"He left for the Army three days after graduation," his father said. "He felt the Army gave him a good chance for success in life."
Smith has been in Afghanistan since May 2010 and was scheduled to come home in April this year.
His family received word of his wounds Thursday. Chris Smith knew something was gravely wrong when he answered his cell phone and saw the area code was from Smith's Army base in Fort Campbell, Ky.
"It was hard to answer that call," he said.
The family is in limbo for the time being until Army doctors decide whether to move Smith to Germany or directly to the United States for his hospital care.
"We are prepared to fly to either place," Chris Smith said.
Cody Smith was an All-Conference lineman during his two years with South Medford's varsity squad.
He has a cousin serving in Iraq and a friend who is a Marine, his father said.
The family operates the Wilderness Trails youth ministry camp based in Medford.
As a child, Smith loved the outdoors and participated in the camp. He has been a member of the Applegate Christian Fellowship in Ruch since he was a child, his father said.
Smith is the youngest of three siblings.
Chris Smith said the family has been received overwhelming support from friends and the community.
"I have had to delete my text-message box because it filled up," he said.
Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.