Staff Sgt. Harold “Butch” Freeman returned home to Gorham in January last year to convalesce after being wounded in a suicide bomber blast in a mess tent in Iraq.

A year later, Freeman, 44, is now volunteering for duty in Afghanistan as a U.S. Army advisor. He’s seeking medical clearance from the Army so he can go.

Freeman also had volunteered for Iraq duty. He switched from the Army Reserve to rejoin his old outfit, the Westbrook-based Company B of Maine’s 133rd Engineer Battalion.

“I can’t let my friends go alone,” Freeman said then.

Freeman and fellow Company B soldiers rolled out of Westbrook two years ago. After training at Fort Drum in New York, they deployed to Camp Marez near Mosul, Iraq, arriving on March 20, 2004.

He was in a mess tent four days before Christmas in 2004 when a blast killed 22 people and wounded more than 70 others. He was 20 feet away from the center of the explosion and he said there was blood everywhere. The blast blew a softball-sized hole in his right leg and fractured his thighbone.

Soldiers from his unit evacuated Freeman. He was taken to a MASH unit near Baghdad because shrapnel had struck him near arteries.

After emergency medical attention there, Freeman was airlifted to a hospital in Germany and then the Walter Reed Medical Center in the states. He had hoped to return to Iraq duty so that he could rejoin Company B in time for their homecoming last spring.

Freeman made a bid for a town council seat in November. He and his wife, Ora, have two daughters, Ashley, a college student, and Ora Marie, a junior at Gorham High School.

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