U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe and her staff spent the day Wednesday with a wounded soldier from Hampden who is undergoing rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Pfc. Andrew Chic, 23, suffered serious shrapnel wounds on May 23 when his unit — Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion of the Maine Army National Guard’s 172nd Infantry Division — was attacked by insurgents in Afghanistan.
Snowe honored Chic for his exceptional bravery and heroism and hosted him at her office in the Russell Senate Office Building.
“I cannot express in words the profound honor it was for me to meet Andy and have the opportunity to express my unending, heartfelt gratitude for his heroic service to our nation while serving in Afghanistan,” Snowe said in a statement. “Andy deserves our thanks and praise many times over — for his undaunted contributions to our country, performed with exceptional commitment and unwavering resolve, and for his exemplary service and sacrifice, which humbles us all.”
Chic did not return a call placed to his cell phone on Thursday.
According to information provided by Snowe’s staff, members of the 172nd were conducting convoy operations on May 22. Chic was in the gunner position in the lead vehicle of the convoy, a mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle, or MRAP. The crew also included Sgt. Eric Christie of Richmond and Spc. Ryan Curley of Bangor.
The MRAP took direct hits from rocket-propelled grenades and other small-arms weapons. Chic returned fire against the insurgents despite continued assault by them. The MRAP was carrying satchels of mail and care packages from family members in Maine, which ended up absorbing some of the shrapnel and mitigating the injuries to the three soldiers.
Chic was taken to a hospital overseas and eventually was flown back to the United States, where he is being treated at Walter Reed. Snowe first talked to him by phone on June 1.
“Each and every Mainer and American can never take for granted the treasured freedoms he so courageously and nobly defended,” Snowe said. “As I conveyed to Andy personally, I wish him the very best as he continues his recovery and he will remain in my thoughts and prayers.”
Bravo Company, commanded by Capt. Paul Bosse of Auburn, is composed of 152 Mainers. The unit was recalled to active duty in December and trained at Camp Atterbury, Ind., and Fort Polk, La., before deploying to Afghanistan in mid-March. The unit is scheduled to return sometime this fall.
Chic was a political science and history major at the University of Maine when he temporarily suspended his studies to deploy with the Maine National Guard.