SSG (Ret.) Phillips Casey, USA
Phillips grew up in Adairsville, GA graduating 12th in hiss class as a BETA and Honor Graduate. He was active playing football and baseball and in his church before going to Georgia State University for 2 years while working weekends and summers.
In 2006, Phillips joined the Army and quickly rose to the rank of Sergeant in his first 2 years. When he deployed to Afghanistan in June of 2010, he knew they were going to lose men. After losing his best friend on July 30 in an IED blast, he personally asked to replace him, which would be the worst area his battalion would overtake.
On March 9, 2011, he was on his second squad patrol of the day. They left Strong Point Weaver, named after our fallen Lt, around 1900 hours headed south into the heart of the Arghandab river valley just north of Kandahar, Afghanistan. Their task at hand was to conduct a reconnaissance and surveillance patrol to a house where they suspected a lot of Taliban activity was taking place.
Half way into the movement they came to a shallow water crossing. Alpha team along with him cleared the path, they chose to cross and Alpha team proceeded to move south. He turned around to guide his Lt., medic, and five Afghan National Army soldiers not wearing night vision goggles into the cleared path and has a moment of indecisiveness, “should I escort him in, or wait where I am?” After taking three steps towards them and three steps back he decided to take a knee like any well trained soldier does in order not to silhouette himself against any back drop. In Afghanistan it is a game of inches in the counter IED fight and within seconds his knee had triggered a pressure plate with around 10 pounds of homemade explosives inside of a 105mm artillery shell. He instantly flew into the air and landed on his back.
Once the ringing stopped and the dirt settled he realized it was him who had triggered the device and knew exactly what needed to be done. He called for his Lt. and medic and told them that it was him who had been hit. After both of them got back to their feet after being knocked to their backs by the blast, his medic ignoring the shrapnel wounds to his left arm, began to work on him. Without being able to receive morphine because of too much blood loss, he laid back and said the Lord’s Prayer out loud thinking to himself these could be the last moments of his life.
It took seventeen minutes from the time he was blown up for the Blackhawk to touch down. He remained conscience the whole ride to Kandahar Air Field and even the truck ride and into the main hospital before he went black. He had surgery that night around midnight and was sent to Germany the next morning.
Phillips lost his right leg and has a “dropped” foot on the left side. He had a couple of surgeries in Germany and was then flown to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. He does therapy at the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio, the one of a kind facility in the United States. Thus far he has had over 30 surgeries and been in the hospital for 5 months. The battle back for a normal life with his wide and daughter continues to be a lengthy journey.
Phillips is married to Natasha who is serving as his caregiver. She dropped nursing school to rush to his side and has been with him ever since. Phillips hopes to finish Bible College in the next 5 years and either become a Pastor or Missionary.