Thursday, March 4, 2010
Photo by Sharon Renee Taylor
Adams received the U.S. military’s oldest and one of its most distinguished decorations after he sustained severe injuries to both of his legs on Aug. 21, 2009. A pressure plate improvised explosive device hit his vehicle while on mounted patrol in the Pesh River Valley, Kumar Province Afghanistan. Five others were riding in the vehicle, four sustained injuries including Adams.
The double, below-knee-amputee said he was grateful to walk across the stage to receive his Purple Heart. Surgeons amputated his right leg in Afghanistan. Adams arrived at Walter Reed Aug. 24, 2009 and a month later his left leg was amputated.
He began walking almost immediately after receiving his prostheses.
‘‘My main goal now is to heal and to get back to a normal life which is possible, I know — my legs can’t hold me back. I’m already walking. It’s a big morale boost. I still have a lot to go in my rehabilitation but I remember the day I got out of my wheelchair, it was awesome,” recalled Adams.
‘‘As far as all the amputees I’ve had, he’s recovered by far the quickest, ‘cause he wants to more than any other reason. He doesn’t want to be in a wheelchair so he’s coming along a little quicker,” said Sgt. Raymond Bailey, his Warrior Transition Brigade Able Company squad leader, the noncommissioned officer responsible for helping Adams with everything that doesn’t involve medical care.
Adams said his triad of care — squad leader, nurse case manager and primary care manager —take good care of him and keep him well informed.
‘‘I got really fortunate to be put in a platoon that functions so smoothly. They’re really flexible,” Adams said ‘‘There are no hiccups.”
Adams sustained injuries on his second deployment. After he completed basic training in December 2006, he joined his unit, already in Baghdad, February 2007. Adams said he always had infantry in his head.
‘‘From day one I walked in the recruiters told me... you’re always put right in the middle of the chaos. I knew what the consequences were. I knew that a lot of stuff comes with it: fire fights, mortars, hand grenades. I don’t regret it one bit, even after getting hurt,” said Adams, who spoke of the bonds that he created. ‘‘They’re like brothers. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them. I miss those guys.”
According to Bailey, Adams is a good guy and quieter than most infantrymen. He said the motivated sergeant has added support with his family.
Adams’ mother and best friend, Debra Weld, drove nearly 600 miles with the sergeant’s 16-year-old brother, Nicholas, and 13-year-old brother, Andrew, to join him when he first arrived at Walter Reed. The native of Mt. Morris, Mich, is assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo. His mom and brother remained by his side since their arrival and joined him for the Feb. 26 ceremony.
Before pinning the Purple Heart medal to Adams chest, Longo instructed the audience to rip out his bio and picture from the ceremony program, crumple it up and throw it away.
‘‘The deal is, this day is not about me, it’s about [Sgt. Adams]. I’m here to represent the Army that’s also here on this path with you to support you through this time,” said the brigadier general, who serves as director of Training in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff G-3⁄5⁄7, Headquarters, Department of the Army.
He handed the Soldier his personal phone number and instructed Adams to call if he had questions about his future or just wanted to talk. ‘‘I want you to call me and I’ll never turn my back,” Longo said.
‘‘That blew my mind,” Adams said. ‘‘That means so much to have someone do that. I’m programming his number into my phone.” Editor’s note: Follow Walter Reed on Twitter at www.twitter.com⁄walterreedarmy.