18 July 2014

Operation Proper Exit: Healing warriors, inspiring Soldiers

Maj. Gen. Michael Bills, commander of 1st Cavalry Division and Regional Command South, greets retired Sgt. Adam Keys with a welcoming handshake on Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan, during Operation Proper Exit on July 10. Keys was an engineer who served with the 20th Engineer Brigade before he was wounded in combat in 2010. Photo: Staff Sgt. Whitney C. Houston | U.S. Army.

KANDAHAR AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — Five soldiers had a chance to be with fellow soldiers once more and leave a combat zone on their own terms, including Fort Hood’s Col. Timothy Karcher, chief of staff for Operational Test Command.

Within minutes of touching down in Kandahar, Black Hawk helicopters lifted the wounded warriors back into the air to take them to Forward Operating Base Pasab.
Karcher said just being able to thank the soldiers in the fight was satisfying enough for him, because he couldn’t otherwise be with soldiers in a combat zone.

“I miss being with soldiers more than I miss my legs, but the fact of the matter is I get to come back and see you all,” he said.

The wounded warriors enjoyed town hall meetings where they met with soldiers and answered questions, both to give them insight and encouragement.
Questions ranged from how they’ve dealt with the loss of limbs and eyesight to how their front-line care saved their lives. One question that was asked at both Pasab and Kandahar was what soldiers could do to help their injured buddies back home?

“If you guys could do one thing to increase the morale of those guys in some hospital trying to heal, contact them every now and again,” said Adam Hartswick, who was injured serving with the 1st Armored Division about a year ago. “I’ve got to tell you, when I got a call from the guys it was the highlight of my week, because you are there lying in bed, and you want to know what’s going on with your brothers and sisters over here. So just pick up the phone and call.”

More at the link.

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