Wounded Warrior Saved by Mountains

Whiteman Air Force Base -  Benjamin Breckheimer, joined the Army to save lives. Despite the countless lives that his surgical team managed to restore life to, the daily loss of life in Baghdad was taking its toll on his soul.

What happened as a result of his deployment to Iraq as a Army surgical assistant is the stuff movies are made of.  After a year of guts and gore, Sergeant Breckheimer, put in for a occupational re-assignment.  

If the story ended here, many would guess that he chose solace in a duty assignment that would place him far from the inescapable human destruction of war… the reality - Benjamin, chose to be closer to the front lines where his patients were receiving the injuries he dealt with on a daily basis in Iraq. 

Upon return from Iraq, the surgical assistant went back to advance training school as a Calvary Scout.   Not long after graduating from calvary advanced training he was deployed a second time to Asia, this time around to the eastern border of Afghanistan. 

“I got so burned out on always working on the after effects of terror,” says Breckheimer, adding “I knew that I needed to be up front fighting alongside these warriors that I was caring for.” 

Months and countless patrols into his re-deployment as a Cav Scout, Benjamin’s Stryker was struck by an I.E.D.  The explosion destroyed the Stryker and Breckheimer.

After years of warrior care and a successful limb re-attachment ( right leg ) Breckheimer was then dealt with another set back - divorce. 

Things weren’t going well in Benjamin’s life.  

One night while sitting in bed, Benjamin held a handgun in one hand while petting his dogs with the other.  In his mind it was time to throw in the towel, but the thought of killing himself with no one around to check on him revealed the reality that his dogs would probably end up eating him… sick thoughts for sick times. 

His dogs ended up saving his life that night.  He’d nearly thrown it ( blown it) away and in the days that followed that darkest of nights he became introspective. “I’d always been drawn to the magic of huge mountains and after looking at guys like Tom Whittaker ( first amputee/handicapped climber to summit Mount Everest) and wounded warriors who were climbing instead of quitting I decided to set my new life goal to join them. 

Breckheimer and Rob Powers, the founder of American300.org will be laying out their personal life stories with Airmen at Whiteman Air Force Base this week in hopes that by sharing, others may be able to better understand the ridiculous nature of allowing life’s darkest moments and thoughts to get in the way of it’s potential brightest memories.  “What I’ve been through is nothing unique, there are millions of warriors who have or will go through much of what rocked my world - I’m just hopeful that by sharing my story others will be better prepared to realize that they’re not alone, that life can offer so much if we just don’t quit.” says Breckheimer. 

Today, Benjamin, has climbed one of the world’s seven continental tallest peaks with a goal of summiting Kilimanjaro and Everest this year.   If successful he’ll be the third purple heart recipient to summit Everest. 

For more on American300 visit:  www.American300.org 

American300 is a all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit with a mission of supporting the Department of Defense through military mentor programming.   The nonprofit also conducts sports diplomacy programming throughout the world.   

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