Local News

February 20, 2014

‘God guided those bullets’

Grandson of Beaverdale resident shot three times in Afghanistan

Edward Pollard knew there was a chance this would happen.

He received a call from his son Jeffery in Florida that his grandson, Thomas, who was serving in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army, had been shot, three times.

Thomas Pollard had been shot twice in the leg and once in the shoulder, the latter of which exited through his back just missing his spine. Edward Pollard, a resident of the Beaverdale community, thinks the shot to the shoulder must have happened as his grandson collapsed to the ground.

Thomas Pollard, who grew up in Florida, has been a member of the special forces in the Army for the last nine years and has been to Afghanistan several times. He is a sergeant first class.

He was in Afghanistan on a mission with Alpha Company, Third Battalion, 7th Group in December when he was shot. He was recently awarded the Purple Heart during a bedside service at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Edward Pollard doesn’t know any more details of the shooting.

“I’m still trying to figure out how it happened,” he said. “God didn’t prevent the shot, but God guided those bullets.  (The one in the shoulder) was just a centimeter from his spine.”

Edward Pollard understands his grandson’s desire to serve in the military. He served in the Air Force for 20 years, which included one tour in Vietnam.

“When Thomas chose to go the route he has in the special forces ... I knew the chances of getting wounded or killed, but he’d be doing what he wanted,” he said. “Freedom is not free. I appreciate those in the military — not just because I was in. They are why we have freedom.”

At the tail end of the Korean War, Edward Pollard was tested by the Army for enlistment. Before the Army could require him to serve in the military, Edward Pollard entered the Air Force. That was in 1954.

“I was going whether I volunteered or not,” he said.

After four years, when his enlistment was up, he couldn’t find a job. So he decided to re-enlist and ended up staying for 20 years.

“I had a good 20 years,” Edward Pollard said, adding he was stationed many places throughout America and Europe.

“I went to Vietnam,” he said. “But troops coming back home then weren’t quite welcome.”

Edward Pollard said the Air Force tried to send him back to Vietnam for a second tour, but he found a special assignment that lasted several years to avoid returning. He was never injured, but suffers the effects of Agent Orange, an herbicide used to kill the forests and vegetation in an attempt to destroy the enemy’s hiding places.

After retirement, Edward Pollard was a truck driver. He moved to north Georgia and has lived in both Whitfield and Murray counties for the last 22 years.

“God has been good to me,” he said. “I didn’t even know it at the time.”

Edward Pollard is glad to see God protecting his grandson as well. Members of the special forces undergo rigorous training and are given classified missions.

“Their work is hard,” Edward Pollard said. “I know one time he had to grow a beard and wore civilian clothing (for a mission in Afghanistan).”

Another time while training and preparing for a mission, Thomas Pollard broke his ankle, which put him in a hospital in Germany. Edward Pollard said that broken ankle saved his grandson’s life.

“In a time of six on that mission, three of them got killed,” he said. “I think if he hadn’t broken his ankle, he would have, too. He’s truly lucky to survive these injuries, especially the shoulder.”

Though the shot to the shoulder was more severe, it’s the wounds on the leg that are causing him trouble as he heals. Thomas Pollard has not been allowed to place weight on his leg, and he’s undergone several surgeries.

Edward Pollard said his grandson definitely deserved the Purple Heart.

“But I hate for anyone to get hurt enough to get it,” he said. “When I see a car tag with a Purple Heart on it, I want to pull them over and thank them. Something bad had to happen to be awarded a Purple Heart. You’ve had to get hurt to get it.”

Thomas Pollard hopes to continue serving in the military, and he even wants to be there to greet the rest of the special forces team when their mission is up, Edward Pollard said.

“I’m proud of Thomas,” he said.

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