Former MSU-Mankato wrestling star injured in Afghanistan explosion

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A former Minnesota State University, Mankato wrestling star was critically injured in an explosion in Afghanistan Sunday that killed four other soldiers serving with a NATO-led international force, the Mankato Free Press reports.

Tom Block, 27, a Waseca native, is an Army Ranger stationed in Kahdahar Province, the newspaper reports.

One of Block's nurses at the hospital in Ramstein, Germany told his family that Block was alert and responsive, but had lost his right eye, injured his left eye and had a collapsed lung, the Waseca County News reports.

It was likely that Block would be flown Tuesday from Germany to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., his father told the Waseca County News.

Block in 2008 was on the Mavericks wrestling team that won an event called National Duals, which featured 16 top Division II teams. He also wrestled in the state finals in high school, the Free Press reports.

"He's a likeable guy and he has a bigger than life presence," his college coach Jim Makovsky told the Free Press.

Block was injured in fighting that killed four other soldiers, likely Americans, the NATO coalition's worst loss in a single incident since June, the New York Times reported. The fighting was between insurgents and a joint force involving coalition and Afghan commandos, according to Jamal Agha, the district governor of Zhari, the Times reported. Agha said the deaths were caused by a bomb in a house.

A Taliban spokesman said the insurgents also had a suicide bomber in the house, who caused a second explosion when coalition forces arrived to help the injured, the Times reported.

Monday marked the 12-year anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.

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