Canadian vet visits Ramstein to reclaim 7 life-changing days of his past

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Chris Klodt, Invictus Games athlete and former Canadian Army corporal, listens to members of the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron explain how they evacuate patients on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 15, 2017. In 2006 the 86th AES medically evacuated Klodt to Landstuhl Region Medical Center for lifesaving care after Klodt received multiple gunshot wounds in Afghanastan, including a shot to the neck. Klodt returned to Ramstein and LRMC to thank the personnel who care for wounded, sick and injured armed services personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker)

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Kent Hehr, right, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada and Associate Minister of Canadian National Defence, listens to members of the 59th Medical Wing explain how they evacuate patients on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 15, 2017. Hehr and two wounded Canadian veterans came to Ramstein to thank those who care for wounded military servicemen and women and to represent the Invictus Games, an international, multi-sport event in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel compete. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker)

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Kent Hehr, left, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada and Associate Minister of Canadian National Defence, listens to members of the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron explain how they evacuate patients on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 15, 2017. Hehr and two wounded Canadian veterans came to Ramstein to thank those who care for wounded warriors and to represent the Invictus Games, an international, multi-sport event in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel compete. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker)

Members of the 86th Medical Group simulate patient transfer from aircraft to medical facility on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 15, 2017.

Members of the 86th Medical Group simulate patient transfer from aircraft to medical facility on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 15, 2017. The 86th MDG conducted the demonstration during a visit from two Invictus Games athletes, including Chris Klodt, who the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron transported from Afghanistan to lifesaving care at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker)

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Members of the 86th Medical Group and 59th Medical Wing simulate patient transfer from aircraft to medical facility on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 15, 2017. Personnel performed the demonstration for a group of distinguished visitors, including Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, and Chris Klodt, who was medically evacuated from Afghanistan to lifesaving care at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in 2006. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker)

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Kent Hehr, left, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada and Associate Minister of Canadian National Defence, thanks U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lynn Hay, 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron assistant director of operations, and the rest of the 86th AES for the role they play in caring for wounded, injured and sick armed forces personnel on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 15, 2017. Hehr and two wounded Canadian veterans came to Ramstein to thank those who care for wounded warriors and to represent the Invictus Games, an international, multi-sport event in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel compete. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker)

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U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Renee Matos, left, 959 Medical Operations Squadron, hugs Chris Klodt, Invictus Games athlete and former Canadian Army corporal, during Klodt’s visit on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 15, 2017. In 2006 Klodt was medically evacuated to Landstuhl Region Medical Center for lifesaving care after he received multiple gunshot wounds in Afghanistan, including a shot to the neck. Klodt returned to Ramstein and LRMC to thank the personnel who care for wounded, sick and injured armed services personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker)

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From left to right, former Canadian Army Major Simon Mailloux, helps Chris Klodt, Invictus Games athlete and former Canadian Army corporal, hand the Invictus Spirit Flame to Kent Hehr, left, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada and Associate Minister of Canadian National Defence, on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 15, 2017. The Invictus Games is an international, multi-sport event in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel compete. The flame made a journey from Kabul, Afghanistan, to Landstuhl, following the route many of the Invictus Games competitors took after being injured during their time in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker)

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From left to right, Chris Klodt, Invictus Games athlete and former Canadian Army corporal, Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada and Associate Minister of Canadian National Defence, and Simon Mailloux, Invictus Games athlete and former Canadian Army Major, talk as Hehr holds the Invictus Spirit Flame on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 15, 2017. The Invictus Games is an international, multi-sport event in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel compete. The flame made a journey from Kabul, Afghanistan, to Landstuhl, following the route many of the Invictus Games competitors took after being injured during their time in Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --

Chris Klodt pushed his wheelchair through the cavernous cargo hold of a C-17 Globemaster III. Cot-racks were bolted to the floor in configuration for medical evacuation, carrying life-support equipment and medical supplies. He remembers very little about the day 10 years ago when a life-saving cabin much like this one carried him from Afghanistan to Lanstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany. The time Klodt spent at LRMC was part of a string of events that changed this former Canadian soldier’s life, and he recently returned to piece back together what happened there.

 

In 2006 Klodt was serving with the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry when an ambush left him with multiple bullet wounds, including one in the neck.

 

“Even when I was at Lanstuhl they weren’t sure if I was gonna make it,” Klodt said. “Both my lungs had collapsed and the shot in my chest broke my sternum. They flew my parents out here to say goodbye, but I’m one tough bird I guess.”

 

Klodt lost all hand and leg function as well as all sensation below his chest, and has limited arm function.

 

Though Klodt said he has come a long way in his rehab, there was another step to moving on that he wanted to accomplish. He returned to Germany along with Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, and another Invictus Games athlete and observed a C-17 Globemaster III static display configured for aeromedical evacuation, toured LRMC, and met and spoke with 86th AES and LRMC personnel.

 

“It’s important to put the pieces back together because it’s part of my history,” Klodt said. “If you know where you’ve been, you know where you’re going. It gives me direction in life.”

 

Klodt took time to thank those who treat wounded servicemen and women, including some who were still around from the time that he came through. Along the way, personnel embraced him and expressed gratitude for the opportunity to meet.

 

“What incredible care that goes on here,” Klodt said, “not only to the individual who’s been injured but the family that comes to meet with them. You can’t say enough good things about these people. The hospital is absolutely incredible. It was so humbling because I lost seven days of my life there and it helps to fill in the gaps.”

 

Though the damage Klodt sustained from his wounds was crippling, since his time at LRMC he has trained himself to function.

 

I’m back to a new normal, absolutely,” Klodt said. “I’m completely independent for a quadriplegic. I’m just moving on.”

 

“Moving on” may be an understatement. Klodt became an athlete, competing in full contact rugby, or “murderball,” and is scheduled to captain his team in the 2017 Invictus Games. The Invictus Games is an international, multi-sport event in which wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel compete.

 

Having returned to Ramstein and LRMC, thanked the personnel and even met some of the people who were at LRMC 10 years ago, Klodt said that he is now very focused on the upcoming competition and his conditioning.

 

“I’m going to give the U.S. team a run for their money,” Klodt said with a smile.

 

The life changing events of 10 years ago have not stopped this vet from embracing the challenge of life. He, along with many other wounded military servicemen and women, are soldiering on.