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Wounded warrior visits Keesler
Staff Sgt. David Flowers speaks to students at the Mathies NCO Academy Jan. 20. Sergeant Flowers, an instructor at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., lost his right leg in a landmine explosion while deployed to Afghanistan. He was one of 18 Airmen cited for their bravery and heroism in the fifth volume of the Air Force’s “Portraits in Courage” released in December. Sergeant Flowers, who also spoke to students at Airman Leadership School, made the trip to Keesler while visiting family members in Biloxi and Diamondhead, Miss. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Eric Summers Jr.)
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Portrait in Courage:Wounded warrior visits Keesler

Posted 1/27/2011   Updated 1/27/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Senior Airman Eric Summers Jr.
81st Training Wing Public Affairs


1/27/2011 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss.  -- A wounded warrior featured in the Air Force's recent issue of "Portraits of Courage"  spoke to students in the Mathies NCO Academy and Airman Leadership School Jan. 20.

Staff Sgt. David Flowers, now an explosive ordnance disposal instructor at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., spoke words of encouragement and experience as he told his story about how his life changed forever after a tour in Afghanistan

"As EOD, we are sometimes imbedded with the Army," Sergeant Flowers explained. "We had been in the village all week looking for weapons when somebody gave up a lead to a weapons cache. When we walked in we saw a pile of weapons and ordnances.

"My team leader began working on the on the obvious hazards of the weapons as I continued to search for more following a wire," he continued. "During the initial sweep, I stepped forward on an anti-personnel mine, blowing my leg off and hurling my right foot at my face."

Despite the explosion that completely shattered his left leg and left him severely wounded, Sergeant Flowers continued performing his duties. He fell back into the blast hole to prevent other landmines from exploding and to save his team from similar injuries.

"After the blast, my friend sprinted across the field and put a tourniquet on my legs
and gave me an IV," Sergeant Flowers recalled. "I then asked my friend to pick me up
and carry me and he did. The doctor said if I would have been five minutes later that I
would have lost too much blood and I would have died."

When asked how prepared he was for his ordeal, Sergeant Flowers responded, "I
was very prepared for it and knew what could happen, but it was my spouse who was
unprepared and I hold myselfy accountable.

"My wife found out through the appropriate channels," he said. "She received a knock at the door and fell to the floor and started crying when she heard the news.

"I came out the surgery two hours later and talked to her," Sergeant Flowers stated. "She sat with me in the hospital. I think it was harder on her than it was on me, but she did what any good spouse would do.

"I think it's a personal thing how you prepare your family, but make sure they are
prepared and aware of what could happen," he added.

Sergeant Flowers, who spent 18 months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, told students, "The lessons that are taught may not make much sense
right now, but they will later. A lot of things didn't make sense when I was here, but
my experience has made sense of them now."

On the topic of recovery, Sergeant Flowers said, "That's something that varies
from person to person, but for me from Day One, today is 100 times better than yesterday."

Sergeant Flowers also explained that injuries from war are not always external
and may involve mental changes.

"Your job as supervisors is to look for signs in your Airmen -- it's your responsibility
to know and take care of your airmen," Sergeant Flowers stressed. "We as military
members have a lot to deal with that most people will never deal with, such as
going (on temporary duty), deploying to stressful environments and leaving our
families."

Sergeant Flowers is currently going through the medical board process and hopes
to be able to return to the area of responsibility as an EOD specialist.

"That's my goal --I want to be chief," he said.



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