After losing his vision to a landmine, Brad Snyder was determined to prove he wasn’t a victim of his circumstances.
“I’m dead.” The thought settled on Brad Snyder in the middle of a cloud of dust and smoke raised by the blast of a homemade land mine. He lay in the fetal position on a patch of grass next to a ravine in southern Afghanistan. The Navy lieutenant couldn’t make out any blood through the haze. His arms and legs were still attached. He didn’t know anyone who’d survived one of these explosions with all of their limbs intact.
An instant earlier, Snyder had rushed past the patrol’s Navy SEALs and Afghan commandos with a stretcher for two Afghans torn apart by a similar device. He heard a loud pop. The blast slammed him backward and bent his rifle across his body armor. The world sounded like a flatlining heart monitor.
All of this had to mean death. A short-lived wave of euphoria and sadness followed the realization. Time seemed to stop. Snyder waited for his father or grandfather — both deceased — to appear and show him the way into the next life.
Pain jolted Snyder back to reality. His right eye didn’t work. The left one wasn’t much better. His face felt shredded. His hands hurt. A sharp ringing in his right ear welcomed him back to life.
Snyder tried to stem growing panic. He’d figured that his luck would run out one of these days in this scrap of Afghanistan near Kandahar choked with improvised explosive devices and rough terrain. Snyder and a fellow explosive ordnance disposal officer were in front of each patrol with metal detectors, responsible for guiding the SEAL platoon they were attached to through the region’s dangerous maze. The stress never seemed to end...