SGT (Ret.) J.D. Williams, USA
JD grew up in Montana and joined the US Army shortly after graduating from high school.
During his second tour of duty in Afghanistan on October 9, 2010, Army SGT Jack Williams stepped on an IED causing him to become a triple amputee, losing both legs and an arm. JD was conscious during the entire episode and ensuing firefight with the Taliban. After arriving at the Kandahar Air Base, his vital signs bottomed out and the doctor tried an emergency procedure massaging his heart, which saved his life. As horrific as these injuries are, JD was glad he was the one to step on the IED and not one of the other soldiers under his leadership.
“While I was walking, I stepped right on the IED,: Williams said, “but it didn’t go off. The Afghan MPs looked back and yelled ‘Taliban, Taliban.’ That’s when it exploded and threw me up in the air, I was conscious the whole time.”
The Taliban had been waiting to ambush the team and were getting ready to open fire just as the IED went off.
“I remember when I got blown up, it was weird, because it was kind of in slow motion,” Williams said. ‘There were dark yellow smoke all around me and I just fell to the ground.”
Lying there with shots flying through the air, Williams tried to find his weapon to engage the enemy. At first, he wasn’t aware of the extent of his injuries.
“When I started getting shot at, I tried to crawl away and I stuck my bone in the dirt. I looked down at my legs and saw chunks of meat and blood coming out, I actually thought I was split in half and I didn’t want to look at myself.”
At that point, Williams said his main concern was to stay alive and get out of that place. “I thought of Ashlee (his wife) and my daughter and that kept me alive. I looked up in the sky and I thought, “God, please don’t let me die.”
William’s team members put him in a wheelbarrow to get him to safety.
“I was laying in this wheelbarrow and I started getting cold,” Williams recalled. “A buddy of mine was there and he was crying and asked me about my family. So I told him about my wife and little girl. That guy said, ‘ If you die, I’ll marry your wife,’ and I said ‘ I’ll get out of this wheelbarrow, and kick you’re a__!’ I just laid there and focused on breathing, I wasn’t about to give up”.
Arriving at Kandahar Air Base, Williams was still conscious. He remembers a medical worker telling him that he would be all right.
“That’s when I died,” he said. “I remember dreaming. I dreamed about my family the whole time.”
As William’s vital signs bottomed out, a doctor decided to try an emergency procedure. He took William’s heart in his hand and performed a heart massage.
When Williams woke up, he was in Germany and was able to talk to his wife. When I heard my wife on the phone, it was like speaking to an angel.
After spending some time in Germany, Williams came back to the United States and is now at Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston in Texas. His wife, Ashlee, and daughter, Kaelyn, who is 21 months old, are with him now. His days are filled with appointments with doctors, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and more.
“It’s like a job,” Ashlee Williams said. “And basically his job here is to get better.”
J.D. Williams takes that job quite seriously. He’s already been fitted with a prosthetic arm and has leaned to use it and he is working on his prosthetic legs.
“At this point, I can basically do almost everything on my own, except shower,” J.D. Williams said. And he can do most of the showering on his own, he just needs his wife to get him in there. “I can put on my clothes. I can brush my teeth. The other day I went skeet shooting and did better than I did before.” On the lighter side of his “job” J.D. has taken it upon himself to be an ambassador to recently wounded soldier. He takes them out hunting with his pals and gets them fresh air and starts them looking to a positive future. He now has a radio program and has launched a 501(c)(3) to take veterans hunting.