It was August 15, 2012, when Jeremy Maddamma left Afghanistan on a stretcher. Maddamma, a US Air Force pararescueman, was on a mission to rescue Afghan civilians after multiple suicide bombers hit Zaranj, a city on the Iranian border. He remembers the gunshot puncturing his left knee and falling to the ground. He remembers begging for pain meds during the flight back to Camp Bastion, getting them, and feeling no difference.

“How much longer?” Jeremy asked a teammate, knowing it was an hour flight.

“Twenty minutes,” he was told.

He remembers waking up after surgery and being told he was going to lose his leg. He remembers calling his wife, Nicole, and telling her the ski season was off.

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Image courtesy of Jeremy Maddamma via The Motherboard