US Army Specialist Hugo Gonzalez was severely injured in combat in Baqubah, Iraq on June 21, 2004. He was on patrol in a Hummer bucket truck when his unit was ambushed. The vehicle took a direct hit from an improvised explosive device (IED) and a furious gun battle broke out with insurgents.
The blast wave caused Specialist Gonzalez to suffer a traumatic brain injury, and fragments ripped into his head. He was evacuated to the base camp where he was placed in a medically-induced coma, and underwent a craniotomy to remove a piece of bone from his cranium to relieve the pressure of the swelling of his brain.
Specialist Gonzalez suffered internal bleeding, a sinus bone fracture, a crushed optic nerve (right eye) and a full thickness macular hole (hole in the left retina). He is legally blind. In 2005, he underwent a cranioplasty to repair his skull defect. The procedure went well, but he suffered multiple seizures requiring long term therapy with anti-epileptic medications.
Among the commendation received by Specialist Gonzalez are the Purple Heart, Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and the Combat Action Badge. Specialist Gonzalez’s combined service-connected evaluation is 100%.
Building Homes for Heroes gifted Specialist Gonzalez, his wife, Any, and their three children a home in Florida in October of 2015.