Family members say a 21-year-old Missoula soldier is recovering after he was critically injured by the blast of an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Pfc. Sam Helmer is being treated at a German hospital for injuries suffered Sunday. His wife Amanda says her husband has a concussion, a deep skull fracture, an eye injury and extensive shrapnel wounds on the left side of his body, including his face, neck and chest.

Helmer's father-in-law, Brian Becker, says Helmer's condition improved overnight Monday and doctors have removed a breathing tube, allowing the soldier to speak. Becker also says the swelling is going down.

Helmer grew up in Stevensville and was living with his wife in Missoula before he was deployed with the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division.

Associated Press