We’re finishing up our last climb of the day. Our second guy starts his repel, um, as he starts his repel, um, he feels a little shift in the rope and he goes, Hey Peter, we good. Peter looks at the system and he checks it, and he says, yeah, we’re we’re good. Go ahead. Alan got about halfway down and I heard a loud.
Ex bang behind me, an explosion, if you will. Um, and I was in the middle of a, of a, of telling a joke and laughing. And so I turned around and I saw rope going across the ground. Um, and it’s a very distinct sound that you’ll never forget. If you hear it, you’ll, you’ll never forget the sound of rope moving overground.
Um, and as I saw it moving, I saw somebody going with it and it didn’t compute in my mind what was happening. Um, but I saw Peter moving with the rope. And I saw him go over the edge. It was a very surreal experience that I’m laughing, but also seeing something terrible happening at the same time. So Alan fell that 30 feet hitting the rocks down below.
Um, and Peter was tied into the anchor. So the weight of Alan falling pulled Peter off. He deliberately dropped his head, um, to try to flip over onto his back so that he could hit that slope and continue rolling down and reduce the impact. Um,
he didn’t make it that far.
Peter’s um, he was a father at the time, uh, of a young child and his wife was pregnant at the time.
Me being a medic, um, and the team leader. I looked over at Josh and I told Josh, when I get to the bottom, I need you to bring. The medical bag over to me. I’m gonna do the airway. Something that I, I regret to this day was John wanted to do something ’cause Alan was doing c p r. Josh was prepping other things.
I said, well, Peter, he hasn’t gotten a breath yet. You can give a couple rescue breaths in between this c P r while I prepped the gear. When John leaned down to breathe into his mouth, um, you could hear the blood in his lungs. You could hear it as if, you know somebody had taken a straw and blown. Um, into a cup.
Um, and John sat straight back up and said, ah, man. Um, and at that point was when I regretted letting him do that, even though I knew he wanted to help, I knew that that is something he will never forget. And that’s because I let him, ’cause I told them to do that.
The fire department got up to the top with us and, um, I asked if they had, uh, A life flight or a hoist, at least on their life flight, and they said no. At that point is when I kind of started losing hope and I was watching Peter’s lips turn blue and I was watching his body relax and I was watching his eyes start to open.
They were getting a read on his, uh, E K G for what a heart rhythm would look like, and it, uh, came up as a systole. Um, that’s the two minutes I gave myself. Um, I gave myself two minutes to visualize everything that was coming next, uh, the memorial, the funeral, the notification process, uh, what it was gonna be like to fly back home, to be able to stand in front of everybody and tell them that their friend is dead because of me, and feel the blame that goes with.
That, and I gave myself that two minutes because I knew I was gonna have to lead the team out of there. Uh, and the fire department brought Peter’s body down in the body bag, and one of the police officers asked, um, if we’d like to pin a flag on Peter’s, uh, body bag. And so this is something I typically am used to and, and accustomed with downrange.
Um, and I’ve never done it, um, in the, in the States. And I said, yes, I’d like to do that. Um, we got the flag out. And, uh, we pinned the flag on his bo on his body bag before we loaded him into the mortuary fair stand and said our goodbyes. Uh, and then I called up my boss again
and I said, this is the last American flag that I’m gonna pin on a body bag. I entered back into therapy, obviously, guilt, depression, sadness, blame, anger, every single thing that you. Could imagine along with even more night terrors, one of the biggest, you know, kicks in the gut, um, was when my wife had come to me and said that my two boys who were nine and seven at the time were scared of me.
And so that was a really big challenge. Um, so I thought, man, I need to get some some help. And started seeing my therapist again every day after about two months. With her help, I, she saved my life and, uh, and I hope she knows that I was in the darkest of places and she climbed in with, Me and guided me out.
I ultimately decided to medically retire, uh, under a diagnosis of P T S D. It was scary to think about, I’m about to get out of the military and have no plan. I was losing all these resources that I was leaning so heavy on, and so I had to create something.
So what Shields and Stripes does is provide. The mental health and the physical health both together. If your mental state isn’t there, then typically your physical state is gonna, is gonna collapse. And so as I started to look around at the resources I had and, and see if this was available out there, that’s how I came across Jennifer.
I asked her, Hey, I need you to, to not just be a mentor and an advisor, I need you to, to jump in with me. I need you to, to join me in this cause, um, to be my co-founder in this. And so, Oak. Um, we started it together and started from scratch and being told how impossible it was, um, and how we couldn’t do it and, and how hard it was gonna be.
Um, I know what hard is. I’ve been through a lot of hard things, um, but I know how important it is to get these people this, this type of help and this type of treatment. Uh, and so nothing’s gonna stop me from getting this done. I couldn’t be more thrilled, um, to be a part. Of something and to afford people the opportunity, the healing processes that I’ve had.
- “This is the last American flag that I’m gonna pin on a body bag.”
- “One of the biggest kicks in the gut was when my wife came to me and said that my two boys who were nine and seven at the time were scared of me.”
- “My therapist saved my life, and I hope she knows that I was in the darkest of places and she climbed in with me and guided me out.”