Photo courtesy of Susan Watkins
Reporter: Amanda Wideman
When Adam Watkins first signed up for the Army he never imagined how much his life would be changed. He didn’t feel like college was for him anymore after a few years of trying so when he talked to an Army recruiter he was sold and joined the Army that day.
About a week later after he totaled his car he told his parents he enlisted. His mom cried he said and his dad was in shock and didn’t have much to say about it. Eventually they both came around and were proud of the decision their son had made.
Adam got deployed in the middle of April 2007 and first went to Kuwait for about a week. He and his fleet were then sent to Iraq as a part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Two weeks in to being in Iraq Adam was driving a Stryker vehicle from one camp to another. The front tire of the vehicle ran over an IED and the Stryker went up in flames.
Adam got the worst of the blast as he was about five feet from the explosion and he was trapped in the vehicle. Some of his fleet members were too in shock to get what had just happened to register with their brain but fortunately there were two brave soldiers who got Adam out of the vehicle and got him help.
He was airlifted to the San Antonio Military Medical Center – Fort Sam Houston, Texas. When he got to the hospital the doctors said he had about a 30 percent change of living. About a week later the change grew a little bit to 50 percent. When he woke up he went through around 41 surgeries and lost all of his fingers except for one thumb.
As Adam was dealing with the surgeries he remembers at one point wanting to give up. He looked around at the other people there who were much worse off than he was and he realized how selfish that would be. So he started making packs with himself every time he started feeling like giving up again.
Throughout the whole process Adam did his best to have a smile on his face because he knew it wasn’t going to do him any good to feel sorry for himself. He didn’t see the point in making himself miserable or the people around him miserable and he felt keeping a smile on his face as much as he could was the best way to make sure that didn’t happen.After five months of being in the hospital Adam was released and sent home. He still felt helpless but as his body got stronger so did his mentality. He kept moving and looking forward.
It has been over five years since Adam’s Stryker went over an IED. He is now a part owner of a body shop and is doing everything he can to live a normal life. Recently what was considered his “good” leg, while he was in the hospital, started giving him problems and he is planning on going back to the Texas military hospital soon to have yet another surgery.
The majority of the men and women who do get injured overseas, while serving our country are lucky enough to just be considered wounded and not have any amputations or end up dying.