On June 12, 2012, Sergeant Matt Krumwiede was on patrol in Afghanistan when he stepped on a homemade bomb which tore away both his legs, damaged his left arm, and ripped open his abdominal cavity.
The 22-year-old has since undergone around 40 surgeries and is now learning to walk with prosthetic legs. Despite the severity of what happened to him, he is keen to re-join the infantry as soon as his injuries allow.
12 Sep 2012. Zharay, Afghanistan. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
Fellow soldiers carry Krumwiede just after he stepped on a device which unleashed about 15lbs (6.8 kilos) of explosives directly into his body.
Krumwiede sustained the injury while serving as a sergeant with U.S. forces, which came to Afghanistan in 2001.
The United States led an invasion of the country soon after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, toppling its Taliban-led government which harboured al Qaeda leaders.
The army’s 12-year presence has generated deep enmity among some Afghans, who resent what they see as U.S. violations of their sovereignty and civilian casualties flowing from U.S. military operations.
1 Aug 2013. San Antonio, United States. REUTERS/Jim Urquhart
For the last year and half, Krumwiede has been recovering from his injuries at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, where he goes to formation with other injured soldiers, attends doctors' appointments and undergoes physical and occupational therapy.
He is learning to walk again with the use of prosthetic legs while also waiting for his abdominal injuries to heal.
Krumwiede grew up in Pocatello, Idaho, and joined the army at the end of high school. “It’s all I wanted to do since I was four years old and can’t imagine doing anything else,” he said.