RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.