“Something like 96 percent of all head casualties die in combat. I was familiar with that statistic even before I left, thanks to my mother,” Bobby says with a laugh. “She gave me far more statistics than I ever wanted to know.”
In August 2010, when a Taliban bullet splintered his skull and passed through his brain, Bobby knew the odds of survival were not in his favor. “I thought I was going to die. The fact that I’m still here is a miracle.”
Even being in the Zhari District of Afghanistan that day was a long shot to begin with. Despite his family history of military service, Bobby had no intention of following the trend.
“My brother and I swore a thousand times over we’d never join the military,” Bobby says. “But we both ended up serving. At the beginning of my junior year at the University of Georgia, I was looking into going to law school, and I was wondering how in the world I was going to pay for it. So I thought I’d go into the United States Army and then use the G.I. Bill. My brother and I signed up at the same time.”
But Bobby didn’t just sign up; he signed up for the infantry.
“I actually agreed to do seven years for the sake of getting into the infantry,” he says. “I went to Army Ranger School and served in the 101st Airborne Division.”
Bobby’s father, who served in the Army for 31 years and retired as a brigadier general, didn’t try to sway his son’s decision.
“My dad was a father first, and a general second,” says Bobby. “He didn’t try to influence me at all. But he would talk to us about all our options. He was always a dad.”
Bobby’s decision to serve in the infantry landed him in a dangerous spot upon his deployment to Afghanistan. His outnumbered unit was sorely in need of reinforcements that never seemed to come.
“The reinforcements were supposed to be there three to four weeks after we got there, but it turned out to be five-and-a-half months,” Bobby explains. “We had far more firefights than we had days in the country. It was almost a constant fight.”
One day, while out on patrol, Bobby was severely wounded in a firefight. Surgeries in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and Bethesda, Maryland at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, helped him pull him through, and so did his mother. The woman who once told him about the long odds of surviving a brain injury was the same person who helped him overcome them.
“My mom was the biggest help,” Bobby says. “She ran eight or nine businesses, but she stopped running all of them to be with me. She moved around with me from DC to Tampa, then to Fort Campbell, then back to Bethesda and Walter Reed, and down to Vanderbilt. She coached me through everything.”
Bobby also found support through Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) while recovering in a Tampa hospital.
“I did not enjoy most of the people who visited while I was in the hospital because they were people I would never see again after the injury,” Bobby recalls. “But I felt like WWP had walked in my shoes and was truly interested in me as a person, as well as an injured warrior.”
His best WWP memories so far were formed in Germany, when Bobby visited Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to thank the doctors and nurses who helped him when he was first injured and speak with recently wounded service members.
“It was great to meet the troops who had recently been wounded in combat,” says Bobby. “Hopefully I gave them the same sort of inspiration and hope that was given to me by WWP. Combat injuries are tough, but we let them know that, in time, life will be good again, no matter how tough the wound.”
Bobby has also participated in various WWP Alumni events, engaging with his fellow warriors and making at least one friend who helped make his trip to Germany even more special.
“I was able to share the experience with a close friend of mine whom I had met at other WWP events,” Bobby remembers. “Thanks to WWP, I gained a confidant I can trust and relate to when I need extra encouragement. WWP does a fantastic job of finding others with similar mindsets and linking us. Those links make things easier.”
Although he’s come a long way, Bobby still faces ongoing problems. “I’m at least 80 percent blind in my left eye,” he says. “I’ve lost about 30 IQ points. I’m still above average, but not as high as I was before. So a lot of things have changed, but you just learn to live with those and continue on.”
Continuing on is just what he’s doing. Bobby recently earned his MBA at the University of Georgia and is finishing construction of his own business, a poultry farm in northeast Alabama.
“At the end of the day, I’m going to try to do all the things I always wanted to do,” Bobby says, “and I’m willing to work very hard to do it. I’m willing to do all the things I have to do.”