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Evan Ahlin, Deployed May 2010 - Aug. 2010, Helmand Province, Afghanistan

00:00 / 04:55

“So, then in May we deploy. We show up at Leatherneck and this is 2010 we show up at our FOB, we take over from our 10th Marines unit and, you know, we land at like someone ungodly hour and we're told, “Hey, they got like, you know, five cannons set up here, but you know, we're on call, but you guys are going to do MSR security primarily.” [and] The plan was, hey basically, we're going to roll out and we didn’t even have enough minesweepers and our dogs hadn't even shown up yet, because we are so new and our dogs are flying from North Carolina, wherever, right? So, obviously I've been in enough gunfights and things like that and I woke up and I'm sure you know, like my spidey senses were already going off. Like it was one of those weird feelings. Like, it's not going to be a good day, and I just couldn’t, I didn't know what but I knew something bad was going to happen. Without us knowing some dudes went out threw a jug of you know, one of those yellow jugs you see over there of HME. And my driver’s front, driver side tire, hit that. So, I remember my head hitting the ceiling. [and] Then when it came down, and then when I opened up, I just literally saw blue sky because we were like airborne. [and] I was like and I was fucking pissed. I'm like, I made it all these years, I think it was like eight and a half years in. And I'm like, I just get blown up by cow shit. That's what I told myself. Literally. I mean, I was fucking pissed [and], you know, because HME was fertilizer, right? [and] The decision was made to MEDEVAC me out to Bastion. So, long story short, they were like, “Hey, you've got a grade three concussion”, that's what they told me. “And two weeks of light duty. [and] You can go back to your unit as long as you fly now, and not drive because you could hit another IED". So, me being stubborn, over the next two and a half, two months, I fired the cannon like 40 times, the two highest powder charges. [and] I was just re-injuring my brain obviously. It takes like nine months to a year for your brain to kind of like stabilize. [and] In the middle of the night it was like August 18/19th timeframe, I don't know. Sometime after midnight, it was literally like a light switch. Like I didn't have any of the normal concussion symptoms like guys, you know, they're heaving their guts out, nauseous spinning obviously. I didn't have any of that like the first time. I had it this time. Because it was like a light switch and in the middle of the night it woke me up and literally felt like a semi-truck was crushing my skull, like the worst pain I've ever had in my life, and as soon as I sat up, I told everyone, it's like I slammed like three bottles of Jägermeister in like a row and everything was spinning. I couldn't tell up from down. My whole equilibrium was like out of whack. [and] I literally just grabbed the poncho liner, crawl out and we had like cots set up outside. It's kind of like benches and smoke pits. I just laid on one of those with my head off the side. I heaved my guts out till sunrise. And my XO came over who I was platoon sergeant for previously. And I used to always, like push back with him like all the time and he came back. He's like, “Hey, I hear you’re not feeling too well”. [and] I'm like, “Yeah, but...” he's like “No fucking but this time! Get fucking dressed and go to fucking medical!” [and] I'm like, “Alright, sir.” So, I went down and long story short word got back and I was on a normal shuttle flight to Leatherneck, it wasn’t even med evac. [and] I went into the ER and some British came in, says, “Hey, we're going to go in and stabilize you tonight. In the morning, we're going to run some tests, things like that, and we're going to make sure you're clear to fly.” [and] Again, I'm like slurring, I’m like drooling, I'm like pure full on Helen Keller mode at this point, right? [and] I'm like, “Okay.” I'm like, “Fly?” I'm like, "Where the hell am I going?” Right? [and] He's like, it's not my call, but you're probably going to go to Germany, you're 110 times worse than you were when you first got here. I'm like, “What the hell is in Germany?” And he's like, “Well, they have a TBI clinic”. That's the first time I ever heard that. I'm like, “What the hell's a TBI?” And he like looked at me. He goes, “That's what you have. You have a traumatic brain injury.” [and] I just looked at him and I'm like, “They told me I had a grade three concussion”. [and] It was like he turned white. I like remember, I was like “Fuck.” They did a C-Scan on me and then my MEDEVAC process started. Official diagnosis, TBI, PTSD, things like that, and then ended up back at Camp Pendleton and started the recovery process from there.”

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