Jake’s StoryPosted: March 14, 2011
On Feb. 11, 2011, my squad of Marines patrolled through the
Sangin Valley in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. It was a very long
grueling patrol through knee-high mud and torrential downpours
throughout the day.
We complained, moaned, and groaned all day about
the distance and nasty weather. I carried a machine gun with the rest
of the machine gunners near the rear of the patrol.
Normally, other Marines looked to me as a source of positive energy even when the
situation had turned foul, but, today, even I was having trouble
finding anything nice to say about this day or patrol. Also, there was
a bad feeling in the back of my mind that I had spent the last 24
hours trying to shake to no avail. Around and Around we walked and
that’s when it happened.
BOOOOOOOMMM!!!!!! I stepped on pressure plate-triggered IED
(Improvised Explosive Device). I heard the ‘BOOM!’ and when I hit the
ground, my first thought was, “who got hit?” Then I looked at my legs
and I realized it was me.
I screamed in terror; then I screamed again
meaning ‘why me?’; I screamed a third time meaning ‘please God, fix
Then I heard my mother’s words in the back of my mind (in her
voice even) “Don’t say ‘WHY?’; say ‘what now?’.” I stopped screaming
and did a half-second assessment: legs gone, right hand broken, lying
in crater of IED, NEED corpsman! So, I yell for a corpsman and one
immediately appears behind me and goes to work.
He is putting tourniquets on whats left of my legs, but I can feel blood leaving my
head and still functional left hand. I’m going into shock! I can’t let
this happen; breath… breath… breath… Concentrate! Meditate!
They’re pulling me out of the crater that had been big
enough for my whole body to fit inside. I’m flat on my back, my team
leader is talking to me. Breath. Concentrate. Meditate. I respond in
my usual sarcastic manner to let him know I will be alright; I even
insult a couple Marines around me to raise moral and hopes for my
survival. Breath. Concentrate. Meditate.
Breathing is getting a little
harder and blood flow to my face and good hand is diminishing. I pray
to God that I am ready if it is His will. I feel His answer throughout
my entire body: “NOT YET.” I open my eyes and double my efforts to
keep blood circulating to my head and arm.
I force more adrenaline
through my body to keep me awake and fighting against my own death.
Finally, a helicopter lands, I’m loaded aboard. My fight is done.
“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?”
– Psalm 118:6
About a day later when I regained consciousness, I am
surrounded by a team of medical personnel who fully expect to be a
shoulder to cry on or possibly have to introduce strong, fast-acting
sedatives, should I burst into a torrent of fear, anger, and
depression attempting to lash out and destroy the world that took my
Instead, all are bewildered that I immediately smile and start
making jokes about my situation. “Don’t say ‘WHY?’; say ‘What now?’.”
What now? Be myself, because that’s still who I am (just a little
shorter). What now? I walk by FAITH, because that has become a deep
part of me, it runs in my blood. What now? I get better and strive for
the same life goals I always strove for. “God is on my side… what
can man do unto me?”
He can beat me, shoot me, blow me to pieces, even
kill me, but because I have committed my soul to walking by FAITH, I
can never be defeated by the things of this world.
I can say with every bit of honesty that I was not afraid during
my tour in Afghanistan. Anybody who has been through what I have would
say, “anybody says he wasn’t scared is an idiot or a liar!” I am
neither typically (nobody’s perfect). I can stand tall (manner of
speaking) and say, “I was not afraid!” because I walk by Faith.
If my wife is reading this, a lot of those times you get frustrated because
I would rather ‘wing it’ or ‘play it by ear’ I’m actually walking by
faith, and how many times do things just seem to work out somehow?
(Just picking on you, hunny)
Every step of the way I knew God was
there; I could feel his presence all around me. I knew in every fiber
of my being that whatever happened was the will and plan of the
Almighty and that He would direct me to fulfill my part of it.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of
love, and of a sound mind.”
– 2 Timothy 1:7
Fear is the antithesis of Faith. If you have that little Fear
in the back of your mind that you may not be on the right path, then
your Fear is truth. You must shed your Fear; just let it go; let the
burden fall off your shoulders so that you can see what Faith really
feels like. You CANNOT see the path until you SHED the Fear of not
seeing it. FAITH is knowing WITHOUT seeing; then, you are able to SEE
what you KNOW.
I will heal. I will take care of and maybe grow my family. I
will run. I will relearn how to fight. I will strive to have a career
with Law Enforcement. I will go back to school and increase my
standard of living.
“What now?” I will carry on…
Jake is a 22 year old father to son Liam. His wife, Michelle, is due to deliver their second son any day now. Jake lost both of his legs and will possibly lose his right hand (it is not healing properly so please pray?) He asked me to share his testimony and desires that it be shared with as many people as possible. He is still in hospital with other complications and injuries.