This story was written by Alan's mother about Corporal Alan R. Babin's experience after being wounded in battle.
Growing up, Alan was your typical All-American kid - playing soccer, little-league baseball and excited about his youth group and new relationship with Christ. He also became your typical teenager – giving his Dad a run for his money and living up to the stereotype of a “cop’s kid.” I watched in amazement as this strong-willed, fun-loving, risk taking, if-you’re-not-living-on-the-edge, you’re-taking-up-too-much-room, Child-of-God lived life like it was a party. Thank God for all those qualities in Alan; they have served him well as he continues to battle his way back to health.
Like many Americans, the events of September 11, 2001, changed the course of Alan’s, and our, lives. Within weeks of the attacks on our homeland Alan met with an Army recruiter, insisting on becoming a combat medic. However, he would not sign on the “dotted line” until he was guaranteed a spot with the 82nd Airborne Division. He accomplished his goal – he was a medic with the elite 82nd Airborne Division and reported for duty in October 2002.
On the morning of March 31s, 2003, we were notified that Alan had been wounded by small-arms fire to the abdomen, was in stable condition, being medevac’d to Germany, and would call us when he was able. Field physicians had removed 90% of his stomach, his spleen, part of his pancreas, large intestine and he sustained injuries to his liver and diaphragm.
And our family embarked on a journey none of us could have anticipated.
Alan would eventually remain in ICU at Walter Reed for 7 months and to communicate with raised eyebrows and eye blinks. While there, he underwent over 70 surgeries, four brain surgeries and multiple skin grafts on his arms. He became my hero, not just for his actions on the battlefield, but for the battle he fought in his hospital bed each and every day.
He was eventually transferred closer to home. Five weeks after arriving at Brooke AMC in San Antonio, and undergoing a final brain surgery to place a permanent shunt that drains his spinal cord fluid into his heart, he was transferred to a civilian Neurorehab facility in Austin for 14 months. Only then was he finally discharged for home.
Alan receives physical, occupational and speech therapy, three times a week each, at home. This allows us to maximize the use of therapy time instead of driving all over Central Texas for the typical 20-30 minute therapy session.
During the past five years, Alan has attended the winter sports clinics in Colorado and various cycling events throughout the country. He enjoys reuniting with other veterans as he participates in adaptive skiing and they enjoy the activities provided at the clinics like sled hockey, scuba diving, rock climbing and snow-mobiling. And, he gets to ski with his dad and his sister.
Participating in sports and recreational outings makes a difference in how our wounded young men and women see themselves. For Alan, rehab sports allows him to put to use all of the therapy which he continues to undergo in an effort to regain as much use of his body as possible. His hard work, determination and perseverance continue to pay off and to inspire everyone around him.
Alan continues to rehabilitate, to participate in adaptive sports, to serve on the Governor's Committee on People with Disabilities, to talk to young adults and students about the power of persistence, courage and faith – and to teach ALL OF US the meaning of patience. A true American Hero, Alan is a recipient of the Bronze Star with 'V' Device (for Valor) and Purple Heart.
This article is part of a DailyStrength series celebrating Fourth of July week, and recognizing and honoring veterans and their efforts to serve and protect. Read more stories including first-hand accounts from veterans themselves, tips for a great holiday, and more resources for veterans.