Senior Airman Brian Kolfage from Arizona lost both his legs and his right arm while serving in Iraq in 2004. Despite his horrific loss that altered the course of his life forever, this US veteran has settled down in the US, and is truly living life to its fullest. Not only has he started a family and a career, but he also volunteers his time to encourage and inspire other veterans who’ve suffered terrible injuries serving their country.
Brian Kolfage lost his lower limbs during an insurgent attack in 2004, on the 3rd anniversary of the September 11th World Trade Center attacks. While stationed in the Balad Air Base in Iraq and still in his early 20s, Kolfage was walking back to his tent to get a bottle of water during the early morning hours when he heard what sounded like a turbine engine scream right by his head. It turned out to be a 107 mm rocket shell which exploded, and nearly liquefied his legs, while taking off the lower part of his right arm. Brian’s experience of the incident was extremely hazy. He shared:
“I tried standing up, but nothing was working at all… I thought I was dreaming,” he told azcentral.com.
His fellow soldiers tried to stop the bleeding with towels as they hauled him off to the medical tent. Kolfage was gravely injured, and he spent the next 8 hours in surgery; meanwhile, the doctors were not optimistic.
He was then flown to Germany for further care until he stabilized, then he was flown back state-side, to Washington DC. Kolfage has since undergone 16 surgeries between 2004 and 2005 in order to remove metal fragments from his body, and also to replace his left thumb. Brian was then fitted with prosthetics, and underwent the grueling task of learning how to keep his balance and to walk again. He also had to learn how to write with his left hand.
Before the blast–Brian with a fellow soldier
Brian is treated in the hospital several weeks after he lost his limbs.
Brian underwent the grueling task of learning how to keep his balance and walk again
Brian is honored for his bravery in serving his country
After making it through all of this, Brian opted for a change of scenery, and moved to Arizona. This is where he would finally be able to pull his life together, and move forward towards having a family and starting on a new career path. He eventually contacted a former crush he had while he was stationed in Texas, Ashley Goetz, who was a waitress at the time. He contacted her on Facebook in 2009, and she turned him down at first, saying she had a boyfriend; but they eventually did meet up, and she said that they clicked right from the start:
“It was an instant connection. I always had a crush on him and thought he was cute,” she said. The two were married in May of 2011.
Since then, Brian and his beautiful wife have truly lived life to the fullest. Together, they’ve started a family, and now have two lovely children, a boy and girl. Brian has also become an architect after graduating at the top of his class from the University of Arizona’s School of Architecture, despite having to learn how to draw with his left hand. Moreover, he and his wife regularly visit wounded veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in order to encourage and inspire them not to give up hope for their future. He received the George C. Lang Award for Courage in 2014 for his selfless and inspiring actions.
“Your life begins again. It becomes a new normal,” he said.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel.”