Today, Sergeant Adam Keys triple amputee accomplished an astronomical goal by making his 10th airborne jump with the United States Army Parachute Team, Golden Knights at Laurinburg-Maxton Drop Zone in Laurinburg, North Carolina. Tandem Master, Staff Sergeant Noah Watts, and Sergeant 1stClass Joe Jones, Tandem Team Leader meticulously adjusted, secured and suited Keys into a stylish black and gold jumpsuit, harness, helmet and glove in preparation of the big jump. Keys completed a tandem class on Tuesday, March 20 planning to make the jump, but either the weather and or a bit of fate had other plans.
July 14, 2010, exactly six-hundred and eighteen days ago, during the 27ths Operation Enduring Freedom rotation in Afghanistan, Keys was involved in a catastrophic accident that has been like an unbelievable nightmare. A roadside bomb, also known as an improvised explosive device (IED), exploded under his Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) convoy vehicle betweenKandahar and Laghman. In the attack, Cpl. Keys was critically injured and was medevaced to Kandahar to Bagram Airfield to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. The other four Soldiers involved Specialist Chase Stanley, SPC. Matthew J. Johnson, Sgt. Zachary M. Fisher and SPC. Jesse D. Reed, (Keys best friend), were all killed during the enormous explosion.
Six days after a bomb had propelled the MRAP he was riding in into the air and deposited it in a mangled heap on the road; Keys arrived atWalterReedArmyMedicalCenterinWashington,D.C.Days after that, his condition turned grave. This tragic accident has been a continual life-threatening journey for CPL Keys who suffered traumatic brain injury and numerous broken bones when his truck was struck by the IED. Julie Keys, his mother said, ”While hospitalized he “coded” several times was resuscitated and miraculously brought back to life.”
Keys contracted a severe infection in his blood stream that ultimately resulted in a host of life-threatening problems, including extremely low blood pressure and kidney failure. Courtney Keys heard a doctor describe her brother’s condition as “incompatible with life.” Basically, the Doctors had just given up hope. Medication intended to drive blood to the heart, lungs and brain restricted blood flow to the extremities. Healthy bodies can handle the limited blood flow, but Keys’ fractured limbs weren’t getting enough blood to survive.
“You could see it in the extremities, his legs and hands were turning a brown color,” Julie Keys said. “They were dying.” Three limbs — both legs and his left hand — were amputated within the week.
Keys has endured over 120 surgeries to repair his shoulder, knee, limbs and his skin. He has recently been fitted with a new left prosthetic robotic arm, and two prosthetic legs. Adam is continually proving to be Army Strong training to increase his mobility, strength and endurance. On 5 March 2012, CPL Keys made a video of his first steps with his new legs, and at the end, he said “See Nasty–THAT’S how it’s done!”
He had two short term goals, which he was determined to complete: He wanted to run from the back door of 20th Engineer Brigade known to the unit as “The Nasty”, all the way to Longstreet and back with his company (approximately 7 miles), and he wants to exit an aircraft one more time. The reason behind the “one more jump” wish is quite comical. CPL Keys’ Mother made nine jumps when she was nineteen years old in South Africaand CPL Keys had nine Airborne Operations at the time of his incident. He had said that he wanted to jump one more time so that he has more jumps than his Mother, but instead they paired up and she completed her 10th jump along side of her son.
This trip to Fort Bragg is his first “Off Post Pass” from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, where he has spent the last 607 days of his life. Following the jump Adam, his Brigade, Golden Knights, friends and family gathered for group photos. Adam said, “ This means everything to me, I feel beautiful, this jump was so awesome. I can’t thank the Golden Knights, my unit, The Wounded Warrior Program and my mom and dad enough. I love you mom.” ” If anyone tells you that you can’t, their wrong you can do anything. This proves that you just have to believe.”
Adam’s mother Julie and father Steve accompanied him to Fort Bragg making his dream come true. He conquered his two short term goals: He carried his team colors and guideon leading his battalion and about three hundred Soldiers from units across post, on his seven mile road march, with the assistance of the Wounded Warrior Program, mother and son made a tandem jump with the Golden Knights. About 70 Soldiers from the 20th Engineer Battalion, made a jump in his honor on 20 March, 2012 on Normandy DZ, he was honored at a banquet at the 20th Engineer Dining Facility on Smokebomb hill and hopes to be promoted to Sergeant soon.
Today is the 618th day since Adam s horrendous life changing accident and he is assigned to the 618th Now tell me was it coincidence, weather or fate that Adam and Julie jumped Thursday, March 22, 2012 ???