I was raised in a small town in Minnesota. My father was a farmer and a motorcycle mechanic; my mother was and still is a school teacher. I joined the army after the events on 9/11. I was a senior in high school when the attack happened. Life before the Army was really just childhood— mine was pretty good. My father died of cancer when I was 10 years old, but I had a lot of family to make up for his loss. I have to say, however, that I did most of my growing up after I joined the Army.

I consider myself very lucky in all aspects of my life, but maybe most of all for the way I was injured. I was a SAW gunner and as such I was acting as rear security in a convoy. I was sitting in the bed of a Deuce and a Half truck with my weapon resting on the tailgate. I remember hearing the distinct racket of small arms fire— AK-47s, probably. We returned fire with every thing we had, although we were an engineer battalion so my M249 SAW was pretty much the biggest thing we had. The next thing I knew there was a deafening ringing in my ears and it was tough to tell which way was up. After a few seconds of confusion I tried to roll over only to feel something pulling on my right leg. When I looked down I instantly realized the severity of the situation and called for help. In the hospital I met movie star after movie star all curious to what it was like over there, and all very grateful for our sacrifices. I was awarded the Purple Heart by President George W. Bush on one of his visits to Walter Reed Hospital. But, believe it or not, he was not the most important person that I met while I was there. I vaguely remember kicking the Chief of Staff out of my room after he barged in against my wishes. I bet he remembers me!

With the help of Tim and The Heroes Project anything is possible in life.