22 March 2011

"I gave my limbs for this country and I wouldn't take them back for a second."

In a terrific follow up to an earlier story about Sgt. J.D. Williams, who said he was "glad" he stepped on the IED (because that meant one of his buddies didn't), we now have a video interview with J.D. and his wife Ashlee. J.D.'s recovering by leaps and bounds, taking his first steps on prosthetics, and making some very big plans.

Wounded Soldier has Big Plans
By Sarah Gravlee

Story Published: Mar 21, 2011 at 7:57 PM MDT
(Story Updated: Mar 21, 2011 at 7:57 PM MDT )

BILLINGS - More than 10,000 members of the U.S. Military have been injured in Afghanistan since Operation Enduring Freedom began in 2001; 48 of those are from Montana.

Sgt. J.D. Williams of Harrison was one of then. Five-and-a-half months into a 12-month deployment in Afghanistan something went horribly wrong.

"I noticed blood on my fingers, I saw I was missing both my legs and my right arm," he said and a SKYPE interview from San Antonio, Texas.

On October 9th at about 8 a.m., Williams stepped on a 70-pound improvised explosive device.

"it was the most beautiful morning I can remember in Afghanistan," he said. "The birds were chirping. It wasn't too hot, wasn't too cold. I just looked up at the sky. I was thinking God gave me a beautiful day to die."

He did just that. Doctors told him he was dead for 30 minutes, but a cardiac massage and the thought of his young daughter brought him back.

"I didn't want her not knowing who her real father was," he said.

One week after the accident, JD was reunited with his wife and child.

"You can't prepare yourself for something like that," his wife Ashlee Williams said. "The doctors tell you to be strong and not break down, because that's the last thing he wants to see. When I got to that door, there was no breaking down. I was so excited to see him."

Five months later, Williams is improving by leaps and bounds.

"I was held at a high standard in the army," Williams said. "When I got injured my goal was to be the best injured soldier. My wounds are something I'm proud of. I gave my limbs for this country and I wouldn't take them back for a second."

Williams is impressing his therapists with his ability to use a prosthetic arm. He said he's doing things with his arm at record speed.

"Being from Montana, You gotta love to hunt," he said. "I started shooting my bow with my prosthetic arm. Almost anything you can think of, I can do."

Just last week, Williams took his first steps on short prosthetic legs. His therapist said he should be walking on long legs in about a month and a half -- about the same time he plans to become the first triple amputee to ride a bull.

"I'm riding it to build other soldiers' hopes up," he said. "My platoon... for them to see me bull riding it's gonna build their hopes up."

Williams plans to return to Montana this summer. He thanks all who have participated in fundraisers to help his family financially through this rough time. Ashlee is keeping a blog of his progress. You can find that website by visiting kulr8.com and clicking on connections.

J.D.'s CaringBridge page can be found here.

Thanks to Montana's KURL8.com for continuing to follow J.D.'s story!

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