12 years ago today, my life changed forever.
While deployed in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, I was a bomb technician under the Joint Special Operations Command. We worked in the dark of night, and it was my job to clear paths for the rest of the team so that we could eliminate threats.
On the evening of September 19, 2010, we received crucial intelligence that a high-value target had turned up, and it was up to us to capture or kill the individual. As we moved across Taliban-controlled territory in the Kandahar Valley and approached our target, I gathered that there must be improvised explosive devices (IED) around us, but I hadn’t located them yet. When I finally found it, I found it with my feet.
With one wrong step, I was sent flying through the air. I landed on the ground with the wind knocked out of me. I can still taste the dirt in my mouth and hear the shouts of “EOD is hit, EOD is down!” through my earpiece. The pain of my team wrenching tourniquets down on what remained of my legs and my left arm is the most pain I’ve ever experienced. The last thing that I remember is seeing my men from the window of the helicopter rendering me one final salute.
It’s been twelve years since that day and yet I can still remember it vividly. Throughout the painful recovery, I held onto my faith, my family and my country. Now, each year on my Alive Day, I am reminded that if you spend your life serving something bigger than yourself, you’ll leave this world with no regrets. Even though I left two legs and a finger on the battlefield, I don’t regret that last mission because I did it for my brothers in arms and for my country.
Now, as your Representative, I have a new mission - to serve our community and the United States of America in the halls of Congress. No matter the battle, I will always fight for this nation because America is worth it. Even if you lost two legs and a finger the day before, America gives us each the chance to wake up and decide to make today better than yesterday. That will always be worth it.