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Honoring Mark Holbert US Army SFC

llllllllllllllMy name is Mark Holbert, I joined the Army on November 13, 1996 attended basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. Upon completion of basic training and jump school, I received my orders to report to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where I was assigned to B Company 2/504 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne. After four years as an Infantryman, I decided to change my Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) to a Satellite Imagery Analyst. I was reassigned to 313th MI Battalion, Fort Bragg, North Carolina. After spending another year with the 82nd Airborne, I received orders for Korea in 2002, where I was assigned to the 102nd Military Intelligence Battalion on Camp Red Cloud. During my assignment in Korea, I decided to attend the Special Forces Assessment Selection at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. After being selected, I attended the Special Forces Qualification Course and graduated in August 2004. I was awarded the MOS 18B, Weapon Sergeant and was assigned to 3rd Special Forces Group in October 2004.

After 3 years as a Weapon Sergeant, I changed my job position to an 18F, Special Forces Intel Sergeant. I deployed to Afghanistan three times without serious injury, but on my fourth trip, my luck ran out. It was August 16, 2010, a normal day in the Helmand Province: sunny, hot, and dusty. We were responding to an explosion on the outer security perimeter of our forward operating base. When we arrived at the explosion site, everyone was on alert waiting for an ambush, or worse, for someone to set off an improvised explosive device (IED). Once the area was called cleared by our engineers, everyone started to walk around the tower and the explosion site. My team sergeant, two Marines, and I walked into the tower to scan the orchards across the road. I left the tower to drive around the plateau with two other teammates to see if anyone was acting suspicious. After I returned back to the IED site, I walked over to talk to my team sergeant. When I was heading back to the vehicle, it happened. BOOM!! I stepped on an IED.

When the IED went off, I knew that I was injured. The first thing I did was to bring my hands to my face. I saw immediately that I had suffered severe damage to my hands. I did not look down at my legs, because I just knew that they were missing, so I just yelled for my Medic. My Medic and my Special Forces brothers were trying to stop the bleeding, so they quickly wrapped my wounds assuring me that everything was going to be fine.

Once the helicopter landed, and I was loaded on board, that is when I realized that both my legs were amputated above my knees. The last thing I remember was a British nurse on the helicopter telling me that everything was going to be okay, and that she was going to put me to sleep. The next thing I remember was waking up six weeks later in the Intensive Care Unit at Walter Reed Hospital. That’s when I was told the extent of the injuries that I had suffered from the IED blast and subsequent infections. On my right hand, I am vmissing a thumb, missing half of my middle finger, and have nerve damage along my forearm. My right leg is amputated above my knee, and my left leg is amputated to my hip because I developed a fungal infection. Since my injuries I have recertified my scuba licenses, completed the Marine Corps Marathon, 3 x Army 10-Miler, 4 x 200-mile American Odyssey relay race, and 4x triathlons. I recently graduated from Georgetown University with my undergrad while working fulltime as an Intel analyst for the Department of Defense.

 

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