Army Sgt. Tom Rollason

Comatose soldier opens eyes

A soldier from Medford who was critically wounded Sept. 20 by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan is showing signs of improvement but remains in a coma in a U.S. military hospital in Germany, according to a family representative.

Army Sgt. Tom Rollason, 43, opened his eyes briefly Tuesday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center near the Ramstein Air Base, said his brother-in-law Johnny Cordero of Medford.

"He opened his eyes and looked at Sandee (his wife)," said Cordero, who is Sandee's brother. "She had his hand in hers and he squeezed her hand."

Cordero, pastor of Lamb's Home Fellowship church in Medford, which the Rollasons attend, keeps in daily telephone contact with his sister, who flew to Germany shortly after her husband was wounded.

"We're still very optimistic," he said. "One of his lungs is getting better. We're taking that as a very positive sign."

A member of the 569th Combat Engineers/4th Engineer Division, Rollason was wounded in southern Afghanistan near Kandahar while traveling in a convoy. He had been deployed to Afghanistan in February from Iraq, where he had just started his second tour.

A cousin of Rollason's who also is in the Army is expected to visit him soon, Cordero said.

"My sister is not holding up well," he said of her growing fatigue. "She doesn't like to leave Tom's side. Consequently, she is not sleeping or eating very much."

Plans call for transporting him to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., but that probably won't happen until Friday at the earliest, Cordero said, noting that doctors say Rollason has to be stabilized first.

In addition to his other wounds, Rollason may have a spinal injury, Cordero said, adding that the family's home is not equipped to receive a wheelchair.

"It would need to be renovated if he is in a wheelchair for a while," he said.

Contributions to help the family can be made in Rollason's name at local U.S. Bank branches as well as Rogue Federal Credit Union. Biomass One has donated $1,000 to the Tom Rollason fund.

Cards can be sent to Sgt. Rollason in care of Cordero at 2131 Hill Way, Medford, OR 97504.

A day after the sergeant was injured by the roadside bomb, his father, Thomas F. Rollason, 67, died after a long battle with cancer in North Versailles, Pa.

The sergeant was able to fly home on emergency leave to visit his father in Pennsylvania in August, Cordero said.

The Rollasons have three grown children, daughter Elijah Rollason, Eagle Point, and sons Joshua Rollason of Medford and Tim Rosenberg of Kennewick, Wash.

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' Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 18. As a Seabee, he served in Iraq in 2006-07 and helped drill wells for the Iraqi people.

Upon completing vy Reserve, Rollason johis hitch in the Nained the regular Army.

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 776-4496 or e-mail him at

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