On Feb. 8, 2008, Hixon, a Soldier with 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, was driving his Stryker through streets in Iraq when it was struck by a 500-pound improvised explosive device.
The IED ripped through the cab of the vehicle, killing four of the five Soldiers riding inside. Hixon, left dangling upside down in the twisted remains of the Stryker, was the only one left alive.
Two hours later, he was freed and on his way to Balad.
In Baghdad, a medical team went right to work to assess his injures. Hixon had a lacerated kidney, a hemorrhaging liver, 10 broken ribs, his badly bruised lungs had been ripped from his chest lining, he had more than 50 fractures, from his neck down his spinal column - three of his vertebrae were completely missing.
Paralyzed but still alive, doctors performed emergency surgery to repair his liver and kidneys.
Now stabilized, he still needed to be transported more than a thousand miles to a hospital in Germany.
When the plane took off for the flight to Germany, his lungs couldn't withstand the change in pressure and he died.
Not giving up, doctors resuscitated the young Soldier and made an emergency landing in Balad. Six hours later, he was back on an airplane headed for Germany when he died again.
After a second resuscitation, the plane was forced to land in Kuwait, where they were able to stabilize him again and continue on to Germany.
At Walter Reed, many days and several surgeries later,
...after the ventilator that had been supporting his breathing was removed, he said his first words.
"Mama, they brought me back to life!"
One September 18, 2008 SPC Wesley Hixon was awarded the Purple Heart in the packed Letterman Auditorium at Fort Lewis' Madigan Army Medical Center by Lt. Gen Charles H. Jacoby Jr., I Corps and Fort Lewis commanding general.
The four Soldiers who were killed in the line of duty during the 8 February attack on Hixon's Stryker were SSG Jerald A. Whisenhunt, SGT Gary D. Willett, SGT Timothy P. Martin, and SPC Michael T. Manibog.
h/t to my friend Susanne.