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War hits home for Oak Harbor family

Special Forces Army Ranger Joel Clarkson, the grandson of longtime Oak Harbor resident Virginia Williams, was wounded in Afghanistan last Friday.

Joel spent a month each summer with his grandmother and attended Oak Harbor High School for several months during his senior year in 2004 while he lived with his uncle David Williams, a 1977 Oak Harbor High School graduate and local long-haul trucker.

Joel’s mother, Karen Clarkson, is a 1974 Oak Harbor High School graduate who now lives in Fairbanks.

“A bullet entered the front side of his helmet and penetrated his skull during combat,” Williams said. “The shock of it took him out pretty good.”

Joel underwent two surgeries in Afghanistan before he was stable enough to be flown to Germany for further medical treatment.

Joel’s mother and father, Karen and Steven Clarkson, older sister Jessica, wife Cassandra, and 9-month-old son Orion are now in Germany. Joel was listed in “serious but stable condition” as of Monday morning, according to Karen’s Facebook page.

This was Joel’s third tour of duty out of Fort Lewis, Virginia said.

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