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15 December 2009
The night was cold and the air pierced my lungs like little needles inside of my chest….we were on a mission to take down a known IED facilitator, in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan….it was quiet…we were blacked out during our movement that night….We cleared compound after compound of IEDs…we were almost done….I remember talking to my teammate , Derrick Victor, when everything changed in my life in that instant…Tony had just stepped on an IED….it threw Vic and I about 10-15 feet into a wall….the dust filled the air like a never ending fog….and the ringing was so loud in my ears….like a siren that just wouldn’t stop….the smell of burning flesh and smoke is not something a person ever forgets….then everything popped back to reality….all the sounds were back…the screaming of the injured and the chaos that comes with an explosion…now I had to get to him and his Team Leader Tom Pilla….Tom was trying to crawl back to Tony, but had so many injuries from the blast he couldn’t go any further…we yelled at him to stay where he was until we could come get him….then, there was Tony….only now he was missing half of his body….he was face down in the ground with his right hand in the air….almost like he was saying goodbye to us one last time….Vic’s face was covered in blood….and I grabbed my Mine Detector to clear to Tony and Tom…we were all MEDEVAC’d from there….I can’t remember a whole lot of the remainder of the evening…it’s all kind of a blur….I deal with the constant headaches still from that night….we lost a great man that evening…..
and it is something that will haunt my dreams for as long as there is still a breath in my body….
“People sleep peaceably in their beds at night, because rough men are willing to do violence on their behalf”. This is a quote that has been engrained in my personality and the man that I have become. It keeps me balanced as I look at everything that we have as a country. It makes me proud to be able to serve in the capacity that I have over the 5 deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq that I have done. However, the thing that it has done to me, is that even though I am home now…a lot of the days, I am still not home….I am still in a foreign country fighting against oppression and tyranny….my mind still takes me back to the days where I am still there….I struggle daily with the battles that go on inside my head…the days where the guilt consumes every ounce of your being….to where you feel like you don’t deserve to walk this Earth because the guys you lost all around you are not here…but somehow you are….the guilt melts itself into every fiber of your body….I have a beautiful family, but so did they….why did I have the right to still be here….these amongst other questions constantly run through my head…heavy drinking to ease the pain….anger for no reason at all….the feeling in your chest that swells like a balloon when you can’t get out of your dark place….I have experienced several operations throughout my career to where many men have died and lost limbs all around me….I have done medical procedures on guys I just met, and guys that where my closest friends…I have watched the eyes of heroes roll to back of their heads….and the last breath they take leave their body….the last breaths of our fallen is the reason our flag waves everyday….and it is something that is forgotten daily by everyone who enjoys the freedoms that have been afforded due to the sacrifices of our brave. I see the faces of every person that I have ever worked on…I see the faces of the ones who died while I was working on them….they are everywhere…even when I don’t think of them…I see them…intermixed in my everyday life….they always look like they did the day they died…and when I see them it’s like looking through double pane glass…
they are always just a little blurry…
I am Chris Ferrell, and have been in the USAF for 12 years. I am an Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician (I disarm roadside bombs and all other explosive hazards). I have been married to my High School Sweetheart, Lauren, for 10 years and have been with her for almost 14. We have 3 beautiful children together; Pyper, Maximus, and Titan. I am from Bossier City, LA and currently stationed at Andrews AFB, MD, where I am honored to play with the Not Forgotten Varsity A Team and to be part of this great organization in general. I have TBI, Chronic PTSD, Major Depressive Disorder, and I wear a hearing aid in my left ear from 2 detonations I have been within feet from...
including one that killed my Teammate, TSgt Tony Campbell, right in front of me, on 15 December, 2009.
TSgt Chris Ferrell
USAF Explosive Ordnance Disposal
30 Years Old
Married to Lauren Ferrell
Children: Pyper, Maximus, and Titan