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Wilkesboro soldier injured in IED blast

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WILKESBORO, N.C. -- A Piedmont family is praying their soldier continues to stay strong after 20-year-old Chance Cleary was injured Sunday in an IED explosion in Afghanistan.

Cleary has been through several surgeries over in Germany, he's now at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. with his parents. 

In a 30 second online video, Chance Cleary gives his family in Wilkesboro a message from Afghanistan. 

"I just want to say hey to the family and friends back home. Love you, guys," he said.

Cleary's family didn't see the video until after he was injured in Afghanistan.

"I mean we all really miss him obviously, and seeing him be that funny Chance is all we know, so i mean it's nice but at the same time its emotional," explains Chane's younger sister Brittany Cleary.  Chance was on his first tour in Afghanistan. 

On Sunday he was driving a Humvee with four other soliders inside. Cleary ran over an IED.  "It's honestly devastating your whole world just comes down in one day," says Brittany. 

The passenger in the Humvee died. The two soldiers in the back survived, Chance is holding on. 

"We know he had surgery on his jaw, five broken vertebrae, two collapsed lungs, but they are better now, broken legs, broken ankles, broken arm and wrist and a few other things," says Brittany.

Brittany is one of Chance's six siblings.  Chance always knew he wanted to be a soldier. "He was so excited when he joined. He said he wasn't living until he joined the army, is his exact words."

Brittany's a senior at East Wilkes High School, the same school Chance graduated from in 2010.  Brittany's softball team wore camouflage jerseys in their state playoff game tonight.

"They have our numbers and they say Chance on the back and I'm going to honor him and play that game for him," she said.

A little sister doing what a big brother would expect, staying strong. 

"He taught us to never tap out and to never give up that's what he always taught us, and that's what we're looking for him to do now, not give up," she said

East Wilkes High School held prayer circles every morning this week. 

The family has set up an address for the community to send donations or cards: Chance Cleary Family P.O. Box 1334 Wilkesboro, NC 28697.

The East Wilkes High School softball team won their first round of state playoffs while wearing their camouflage jerseys in Chance's honor.

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