Our hero’s tour included getting shot twice, getting an axe to the face, and being blown up with IEDs six times. The last time involved TBI, traumatic brain injury. You know what happens to your ankles and your head when you’re in a “IED-proof” Humvee, right? He would go back if he could. Deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 at 40 years of age (an exception, as he’s really talented), he returned Stateside in 2011.
He wasn’t in the zone long, but saw more action than most might see in multiple wars. And don’t think it’s over for him. He is absolutely constrained to fighting every single day, both with a bad case of PTSD and its nightmare of being “there”, when you want to do more for your brother but can’t because you’re taken out yourself, and then by way of dealing with injuries, walking with a crutch, getting way overtired very quickly, dizzy, and then… and then… the end of the world headaches… end of the world… non stop, 24/7/365. The brain injury takes all of everything to deal with.
Whenever you see a vet, make sure you go way out of your way to thank them for their service back in the day and their continuing service for the burden they carry to this day. They carry us out of harm’s way to this day by having been available to do that for us all.
I’ve been following our hero’s progress for a number of years (he being related to my neighbors back at the hermitage), but never had the privilege of meeting him until now. He and his mom – I’m forever indebted to her for her prayers – drove down all the way from South Dakota. It’s a kind of miracle, really. This is the best he’s ever done, his best day of his best week in all these years – lots of laughter all day long – but… (I’ll get to that “but…” further below).
When he would get a phone call yesterday morning he would have a moment of hilarity, telling the caller that he would have to get back to them as he was busy now teaching a Catholic priest how to take out terrorists. “A what doing what?!” would be the answer. And on it would go. One of his many jobs over the way was to teach Afghanies how to shoot. He was happy to make me an Afghan soldier for my “day off.” He knows what he’s doing; take a gander at this very short video about his work:
After putting this newbie back about 25 feet (four more feet than NC qualification distance for concealed carry), and giving me tips on stance and posture and arms and hands and fingers and eyes and what exactly I’m looking at, he immediately got bored with that and put me back at 75 feet, well over three times the maximum distance, and then talked to me about ballistics and gravity, saying that I would have to work on distances so that calculations as to the drop would be second nature. He also wanted all the other mechanics to be second nature, muscle memory, muscle memory, muscle memory. I have plenty to work on, but apparently have a little bit of potential…
I must say that he’s really good at psychology, as I easily despair if I’m not exactly on center-target every time with my 4″ barrel Glock 19. My chance for depression above is 14 out of 15. But he was very encouraging, insisting that for a newbie at that range for a pistol such as I have, my groupings were really very good because very consistent. All I have to do now is sharpen the mechanics a bit and stay practiced. Did I say he was also deployed in PsyOps?
I take this opportunity to remind the more timid readers that all Catholic priest-chaplains for the great Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police force must go through special FBI training, which includes being trained up in weaponry, particularly pistols. Just sayin’
We also talked quite a bit about shooting while running, something I never thought I would be able to do and which is part of the FBI course mentioned just above. But he said if I had the mechanics down for stationary shooting, the bit about running added no further difficulty, demonstrating just what kind of “run” it is when you’re running and shooting a pistol. Yes, of course, thought I, when I saw this. This is exactly what I’ve already seen with what I know of that FBI course. Great! Anyway, that was that.
He accompanied me to do some errands in town and then get some Chinese before heading back out to – dare I say it in view of recent posts? – “The Farm.” There we met up with the others and had the best homemade pizza ever. I got three big pieces to bring home with me. They’re for lunch and supper. Mmmmmm Mmmmm good!
There was lots of laughter all day long, but nothing compared to what happened when 189 million year old Grandma Clara-Gene joined us on speaker phone and had us all rolling on the floor laughing hysterically with her utterly dead-pan statements about her own proficiency with guns compared to all our ridiculous carry-on about useless target practice, because, you know, after all, if you see something that needs a-killin’ you just shoot it and that’s all there is to it. And actually, if she was in the military, she would be expert and an instructor. To hear this gentle grandma carry on was really a hoot and she very much enjoyed it all as well. It was just a really, really good day for all. But…
I was worried that this might be too much for our hero. It was. I got a call about 20 minutes after I left, when I was already just into the 30 mile dead zone for phones. I got the message only after midnight. He had had a seizure about 15 minutes after I was gone. I feel terribly guilty, but this morning he said that I had nothing to do with it. This is just what happens. He not only didn’t regret anything, he said that he thoroughly enjoyed every minute, having the best time ever, very happy with everything. They do plan to come again. And, of course, I could go and make my way up to where he is. I do have some errands I could do in Minnesota and South Dakota…
Update: They’re on their return trip. Pray for their safe travels: Hail Mary…
8 responses to “My day with the combat wounded, with me taking the part of an Afghan soldier.”
How about a first name to make it easier pray for him.
What Graces for both of you!
Hey, I’m from South Dakota! Maybe I know them.
Prayers for Ricky and George.
The wonderful souls that we meet along our journey! God bless him!
Tell Fr. Dana that Rick’s mom goes to the cathedral in Rapid City.
How good that you needed training. His best day because he was doing what he loves and does best? That’s the best.