Retracing My Steps

(Six years ago, I occupied Bed # 8 in Bagram Hospital)

This is the fourth in a series about my trip to Afghanistan with Operation Proper Exit (Feherty’s Troops First Foundation). Click these links to read #1 #2 and #3

For the next three days, our schedules were packed from the moment we woke up until we went to bed. Our first stop was the helicopter medical evacuation team, better known as DUSTOFF (Dedicated Unhesitating Service To Our Fighting Forces). If it were not for a fearless and relentless DUSTOFF crew in NW Afghanistan six years ago, I would not be here right now. These crews fly anywhere and anytime. I have never had the opportunity to thank those brave soldiers who risked their lives to save me, so I was happy to be able to thank this crew for their selfless service. While it was not the same crew, it felt great to finally thank members of DUSTOFF. Next up was my most anticipated moment of the trip, a visit to Bagram hospital.

After I was wounded, I was placed in a medically induced coma at the field hospital in NW Afghanistan. I traveled from the field hospital to Heart Airfield, to Bagram Airfield and then Landstuhl, Germany, where I finally woke up. It is un-settling to have a four-day period of my life that I have no recollection of. The trip to the hospital would begin to fill in the gaps.

This is What Resilience Looks Like.

(This is the cabin of our C-130 on our trip from Kuwait to Afghanistan.  The members of Operation Proper Exit are spread throughout the cabin.)

This is the third in a series about my trip to Afghanistan with Operation Proper Exit (Feherty’s Troops First Foundation).  Click these links to read #1and #2

With a flight time of over five hours from Kuwait to Afghanistan and a C-130 reserved just for the members of Operation Proper Exit (OPE), each of us spread out throughout the cabin as soon as the plane took off. On my flights to Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011, I knew everyone would not be making the return trip home after the deployment. During the flights, I would inquisitively stare at the men and wonder who would make the ultimate sacrifice. Six years later with OPE, I scanned the faces in the cabin mid-flight and the sense of dread I used to feel was replaced with inspiration.

I saw five other men who had suffered devastating injuries and underwent an excruciating physical, mental and emotional healing process. I noticed the prosthetic arm and legs along with a set of crutches propped up against the cabin walls. After all these men had been through, they still possessed the courage to go back to the land that took so much from them. While my mind processed these images and emotions I thought to myself, “this is what resilience looks like”.

Metabolic Meltdown Podcast

“Courage is going forward when the outcome is uncertain.” I had a great time on the Metabolic Meltdown podcast talking about what courage means to me and the lessons I have learned from my long journey through the Special Forces, deployments, being wounded and the recovery process. Thank you! Matt Phelps Tyler Hammett Chris Fasano Drew Smith Lynsey Ciraulo

THE Metabolic Podcast- Episode 07: “Courage” ft. Kevin Flike


We Few Podcast

“During tough times I told my self this was a situation of my own making. No one made me join the Army and volunteer for the Special Forces… I would tell my self, ‘You wanted to be tested and now you are going to be tested…how are you going to perform?”  Great time on the We Few Podcast with John Konya.  We talked about the Special Forces, my injuries and where my Purple Heart is currently located.  Tune in to hear the rest!

Episode 018 Kevin Flike