Imagine this: you are riding in a helicopter 400’ above the surface of the ocean off the coast of CA. There’s that familiar knot in your stomach tightening up. You’re about to jump out. It's a practice run, all part of prepping for another tour for the real thing in Afghanistan, it is 1987.
That was Don ’s reality …3, 2, 1…jump. Instead of free-falling for a few moments, he was startled when he heard the chopper blade cut through his parachute. It was nightmarish. He plummeted through the air like a rock. The rugged Seal, a veteran of two tours in Afghanistan, stoically braced for impact. Wham!
He slammed into the water feet first. The impact compressed his spine crushing two disks and it also knocked him unconscious. Severely injured, he sank nearly 100 ‘ to the bottom.
Brother Seals jumped seconds after him. They were in the water, racing to the bottom to try to rescue their comrade in a heartbeat. They dragged him to the surface and got him to the shoreline. He was brain-dead for about a minute. Broken, badly injured he came to and was rushed to the hospital.
In my opinion, the Navy should have given him a medical discharge. Not just because of the severe back injury and trauma he suffered in the horrific accident. He’d already served two tours of duty and seen heavy action in Afghanistan. In addition, he had PTSD and on top of that brain damage from the accident.
But the Navy invests heavily in their elite corps. If he didn’t push for it and could function they were not about to give him a medical discharge.
Anyway, his commander waited the six months, for him to heal from two surgeries until he was released from the hospital. Then he was deployed with his unit back to serve his 3rd tour in Afghanistan. He remained in the Navy for 20 years and was given an honourable discharge.
Today, at 61 he is a big bear of a man who has a ready smile. The neighbourhood he lives, south of the border where it is cheap,, is the worst in a city notorious for its high level of homicides. He doesn’t complain about any of it and he seldom mentions his back pains, When he does I figure that they must be severe.
Some people say that he’s slow in the head, they have no idea of his past. Brain injuries and PTSD have heavy impacts on mental functioning. But Don is not at all stupid as some folks mistakenly judge him to be, by a few small behaviours.
This article was my idea, not his. He is not the kind of guy to cry on anyone’s shoulder or ask for help. So I am doing it for him, he deserves it and I am a writer. Oh, I failed to mention that his father served under Patton in WWII; in addition, all of his 5 brothers served in one elite corps or another as well.
True patriotism and selfless service to America are Goshke family traditions. This crowdfunding campaign is to help Don get through this next 12 months until his social security kicks in. It is the least I can do
Oh, one last thing. They did not have him do any more copter jumps after the accident. However, they did have him repel thousands of feet down a mountainside overseas