24 April 2015

Aeromedical Evacuation out of Bagram Air Base

U.S. Air Force Capt. Maria Vazquez, 455th Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron flight nurse, tests an oxygen mask in preparation for an AE mission April 19, 2015 at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. The Aeromedical Evacuation team had traveled to Kandahar Airfield on April 19 to provide in-flight medical care to three service members.The U.S. Army Soldiers sustained multiple injuries when their mine resistant ambush protected vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device during a mission in the Central Command area of responsibility. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz/released.

Read more about this team here.

23 April 2015

War Heroes return to Afghanistan for 'Proper Exit'

From the Army Times.
Five wounded service members, including two Medal of Honor recipients and last year's Army Times Soldier of the Year, visited Afghanistan Wednesday as part of Operation Proper Exit. 
The troops who returned to Afghanistan were retired Master Sgt. Leroy Petry, retired Marine Cpl. Kyle Carpenter, Sgt. Tom Block, retired Sgt. Ralph Cacciapaglia and retired Cpl. Steve Martin. 
Petry received the Medal of Honor for his actions on May 26, 2008. He is credited with saving the lives of his fellow Rangers when he picked up a grenade and threw it away from them during a fierce fight in Paktya province. Petry was then on his seventh deployment and assigned to 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. He received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor, on July 12, 2011. He retired last summer. 
Carpenter was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in February 2010. Carpenter, was part of the Marine assault in Marjah in southern Afghanistan. He was honored for throwing himself on a grenade to shield a friend and fellow Marine from the blast. 
Block was the 2014 Army Times Soldier of the Year. Block, of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, was wounded Oct. 5, 2013, during a raid in southern Afghanistan. Block and his fellow Rangers were on a mission to root out insurgents who had been planning suicide bombing attacks in the area when a suicide bomber — either woman or a man dressed as a woman — detonated. Block was thrown 35 feet into a minefield, severely wounded. Four other soldiers died on that mission, and nearly two dozen others were wounded. "This trip for me came to a head when we visited Craig Medical Center," Block said, according to a news release from U.S. military officials in Afghanistan. "They showed me the bed that I stayed in. That kind of came full circle for me." 
Martin, of the National Guard, was wounded in September 2008 in Logar province, according to the news release. He now works as a trooper with the Arizona Highway Patrol. Since he lost his legs, Martin has participated in 29 half marathons and five full marathons, according to the news release. "I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today without the service members that helped get us through there," he said. "It's just neat to see a sea of green out here today. Going back into Craig [Hospital] this morning was huge. It was a big emotional moment for me because the last time I [arrived] was unfortunately via a Black Hawk ride on a stretcher. I was pretty banged up. They took great care of me. They took great care of my team when we were hit and rolled us out of there about four days later. It's a huge honor to be back here today and to see everybody. I just didn't think I'd get back over here to see it." 
Caccipaglia, of 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, was wounded February 2012 in Helmand province. Four months after being shot through the leg by a 7.62mm round, he tried out for and made the 2012 All-Army Rugby Team. He's currently working on his master's degree in business administration at Boston College.

16 April 2015

Wounded Warrior Receives New Home

"It's been a rough road, but I can't thank the American people enough on their dedication to give back to the soldiers and just pay it forward," said Staff Sgt. Timothy Payne.

The 32-year-old Army veteran lost both his legs and severely injured his left hand in 2011 when an improvised explosive device detonated under him during a combat mission in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province.

He was transferred to Walter Reed Medical Center where he spent a year and a half recovering. After more than 100 surgeries his spirit remains unbreakable.

Payne will get the keys to his new home when it is finished sometime in June, according to ABC News in Raleigh, NC.

13 April 2015

Must-see Interview with Michael Schlitz

Fantastic interview with Michael Schlitz by Chuck Williams of the Ledger-Enquirer. Must-watch!

You probably don't know Michael Schlitz.

But you should.

Eight years ago, Schlitz -- a U.S. Army sergeant assigned to the 10th Mountain Division in Baghdad -- almost died in a roadside attack.

He was burned beyond recognition, lost both hands and partial sight. The three soldiers in the vehicle with him were killed.

Today, Schlitz lives in southern Harris County and travels the country telling his story of service and survival.

He can talk candidly about suicide because he has contemplated it. He can talk about pain after 83 surgeries.

He recently sat down with Ledger-Enquirer reporter Chuck Williams and shared his remarkable story.