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Green Beret shot in Afghanistan; Former Angola man suffers from bullet lodged in brain

Chris Kreiger knows too well the horrors of war and the road to recovery after nearly losing his life.

He also knows his brother will accomplish the same.

Matthew Kreiger, a 25-year-old Army Green Beret and former Angola resident, is suffering from a bullet lodged in his brain after an attack in Afghanistan. Chris was awakened with the news when his phone rang early Monday morning.

"He's a strong little guy, and I know he'll pull through," Chris said. "He's up, and he's actually walking."

Monday evening, family members said Matthew Kreiger was in stable condition and being flown to Germany for treatment. Initially, Matthew could not move his limbs, but he is now responsive and able to move and speak, according to family.

Doctors have not yet determined whether to remove the bullet, fearing such a move could do more harm than good, Chris said.

Matthew worked as a nurse's assistant before enlisting in the Army four years ago. He had just recently completed his special forces training to become a Green Beret.

Chris is an Iraq War veteran who was seriously injured by a roadside bomb just two weeks before he was scheduled to return home in 2004. He has since recovered from his injuries, although he still suffers from a seizure disorder. The Tonawanda resident co-founded WNY Heroes to aid returning veterans and the families of veterans in gaining access to essential resources and services.

Rep. Kathleen C. Hochul, D-Amherst, announced Matthew Kreiger's injury at a morning news conference called to stress the importance of war veterans receiving treatment upon their return home. Chris Kreiger was initially invited to speak at the conference but could not under the circumstances.

"The only thing I know is that I was awakened by a call at 3 a.m. that my brother had been shot in the head. I thought I was dreaming," Chris said.

The attack came not long after a NATO helicopter was shot down by Taliban forces Saturday.

A former Marine and close friend of the Kreigers said it is not out of the realm of possibility both incidents may be connected -- and that Kreiger and his unit may have been in the process of a retaliatory operation when the Taliban attack ensued.

"The timing would lend itself to indicate that the operation in which [Kreiger] was shot was somehow related to SEAL Team 6," said Roman Fontana, who now works as an attorney and veterans advocate. "Here's the thing -- all those combat forces work very closely together. I would be very surprised if it wasn't part and parcel of the same operation."

Matthew's wife, Jamie, and two daughters live in Fort Bragg, N.C.

Regardless of the outcome, Chris said it is apparent his brother does not regret the decision to become a special forces operative.

"He was hurt doing what he loved," Chris said.

email: jbolitho@buffnews.com

lmichel@buffnews.com