Wounded Warrior speaks to SNCOE Course attendees about injuries, views on AF

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brigitte Brantley
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
A Purple Heart recipient recently visited future master sergeants here during a brief for newly-selected senior NCOs.

Staff Sgt. Alex Eudy, a special operations weatherman assigned to the 10th Combat Weather Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., spoke to members of the Senior NCO Enhancement Course about his experiences while deployed and how they impacted his views on the Air Force.

An Airman is considered an Air Force Wounded Warrior when they have incurred a combat or hostile-related injury or illness requiring long-term care. They must stand before a Medical Evaluation Board or Physical Evaluation Board to determine fitness for duty.

In a deployed location, special operations weathermen are responsible for conducting battlefield weather observations, environmental reconnaissance and forecasting conditions for missions.

Two months into his first deployment in Afghanistan, Sergeant Eudy's life was about to change. At the time, the enthusiastic Airman was providing weather support for a U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations team. While heading back to his base after a mission, the up-armored Humvee he was driving was hit by two 155 mm mortars and a Soviet anti-tank mine detonated under the vehicle.

"The mine was planted three to four feet underneath the ground; if it was buried any further up, I might not have survived," said Sergeant Eudy. "When the Marines pulled me out, I just thought my legs were bruised, so when they asked me if I could walk, I said, 'Of course.' My teammates later told me that they could hear my bones cracking through their headphones as I tried to stand up."

Once his teammates realized the extent of his injuries, they got to work stabilizing him. Sergeant Eudy suffered a total of 32 major fractures and it was initially thought his left leg might have to be amputated.

"The accident happened in the middle of the night, so it was difficult to really see my injuries because of the lack of light," he added. "With night vision goggles, they inserted an intravenous line into my arm, pulled everybody else out of the vehicle and posted security."

While Sergeant Eudy lay injured, he assisted the Marines in using his weather equipment to help a medical evacuation helicopter navigate through conditions and land safely.

Less than 10 days after the accident, Sergeant Eudy was back stateside. After undergoing three separate surgeries totaling 23 hours at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., he was presented the Purple Heart Award and Air Force Combat Action Medal by the commander of the Air Force Special Operation Command.

"I was put in a wheelchair and told there was a great chance I would never walk normally again, but I didn't want to accept that," Sergeant Eudy said. "Along with my legs being injured, I hyperextended both of my rotator cuffs. I couldn't do anything by myself and humility does not come easily to me."

When he arrived to brief Moody's soon-to-be senior NCOs, the Airman walked without a hint of injury.

"The reason I give briefings to groups such as this is so I can show and tell what I have done for my Air Force, and hopefully motivate and inspire others," he said. "Although I've been injured, I am valuable as a special operations weatherman in the operational role I am in now and hopefully the service will allow me to continue doing what I love.

"The career field I am in is extremely small; throughout the Air Force, there are only 78 of us, and 12 of those are officers," Sergeant Eudy added. "I was a senior airman at the time and have only recently pinned on staff sergeant, but because my office is so small, I am getting the opportunity to take on the roles of higher ranks. This fits into the Air Force ideal of becoming a well-rounded individual."

He also hopes that SNCOs will give the Airmen under their command the chance to also become well-rounded individuals and perhaps see the full extent of their job.

"I challenge each SNCO to take their Airmen around base and show them how far-reaching what they do is," Sergeant Eudy said. "When I was being presented my accolades after my surgery, there were more than a hundred medical group Airmen there. The individuals from various offices were getting to see me and the end result of what they did in radiology, anesthesiology and other areas."

One technical sergeant says that Sergeant Eudy's story inspired her and that she agrees with his view on Airmen.

"Having him speak at this Professional Military Education course was extremely inspiring," said Tech. Sgt. Susan Smith, 23rd Wing command section superintendent. "Seeing his tremendous level of commitment to the Air Force, even after all he endured, motivated me and helped me realized we should all display commitment at this level. It helped us re-evaluate and address what we should strive to accomplish as we better ourselves."

Sergeant Eudy will face a medical evaluation board at the end of this month and it will be determined then if he will be allowed to continue serving on active duty.

"Although I'm medically ineligible right now to deploy, I hope they'll see that I'm extremely valuable at what I am doing now," he said. "If they tell me to get out, I'll say, 'Thanks for letting me have this experience- I've loved it."