When Army Sergeant Ken Patterson’s CH-47 Chinook helicopter landed at a mountainside military compound in Afghanistan, the enemy was waiting.
His team did not know days earlier, the Taliban had overtaken the site from Afghani forces.
A rocket propelled grenade struck the helicopter where Ken, a door gunner, was sitting. His right leg was lost in the blast, his left leg was shattered.
Ken’s team hurried away from the aircraft, only to realize they were trapped. The radio equipment was still inside. The pilot dove back in to send out a distress signal as the Taliban continued to pummel the aircraft.
When a Blackhawk crew arrived, the craft was unable to land. Ken, injured and now missing a leg, couldn’t jump. His team threw him several feet into the helicopter and narrowly escaped more enemy bullets.
In San Antonio, doctors amputated Ken’s remaining leg. His wife, Jessica, and 7-year-old son Jonathan hurried from their home in Savannah to be by his side. The family left most of their personal belongings behind to find themselves living together in a single hotel room with one bed and a sofa sleeper in an unfamiliar location they couldn’t call their own. Cramped quarters and little privacy began to strain the family and Ken reflects that “It was emotional turmoil.”
Operation Homefront gave them a home with plenty of space and peace.
The family is working to save money while they plan for the future. Ken said he hopes to stay in the Army, if there is a job available for him. Until then, Ken and Jessica are taking advantage of the courses available at the Operation Homefront Village and working with a financial planner. “This is helping us save money and get our life back on track,” Ken said.