Joey's "Alive Day"Retired Staff Sgt. Johnny "Joey" Jones recounts the harrowing day in which he lost both of his legs in an unexpected IED explosion in Afghanistan. Join Jones as he reflects on his time as a United States Marine EOD technician and experience the infectious positivity that has been capturing the hearts of so many who hear his story.
Twelve years ago this week I was lying on a foreign battlefield in the rural Helmand Province of Afghanistan.
Just moments before I had rendered safe or disarmed an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) or “homemade bomb” and was talking to the Marine providing security for me, Cpl. Daniel Greer.
In the blink of an eye, my life, Daniel’s life and the lives of those we love changed forever.
As I put my helmet and ballistic glasses back on to move towards my patrol, I took a step with my right foot away from a short wall I was leaning against.
My foot landed on a buried IED, activating it and sending me cartwheeling through the air, conscious and without legs.
I landed on my back.
As the dust settled I could tell my legs were gone, just past them, I could see Cpl. Greer lying on his stomach, motionless.
I reach up to my left shoulder for a tourniquet with my right hand but my forearm was severed and my hand lay limp in my lap.
My left arm was under me and I could feel it.
As my body went into shock I realized my efforts should be directed at helping the Marines coming to retrieve us.
The rest of that day is blurry at best. -- I’ve been told some details but that’s all the memories I have.
That day, August 6th, 2010, isn’t the day I lost my legs, it’s the day I lived. It's my “Alive Day.”
Now looking back a full decade since that day I have to acknowledge some hard truths.
First, Cpl. Greer didn’t survive that bomb.
I might’ve done something different and he’d still be here but war is ruthless, indiscriminate and final. There are no second chances, looking backs or better next times.
It's just life and death and what’s left.
Secondly, I’ll never have legs again. I’ll always feel the indescribable pain of nerves pulsing trying to find a piece of me that’s no long there.
The throbbing aching of skin and bone grinding against my prosthetics and the unrelenting frustration of needing a helping hand for the most basic of tasks.
Lastly, the pain and emotional toll that day took on my fellow Marines, our families and friends is a difficult burden to bear.
Yet, these truths, as painful and negative as they are, aren’t without positive outcomes and blessing.
Yes, Cpl. Greer died that day but now I owe it to him to live a full and good life. To pay his sacrifice forward and see his legacy fulfilled.
His widow is now my dear friend. His son is a sprouting young man who is the same age as mine.