Purser shares his story at ANAD Disability Awareness event
October 27, 2011
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- Johnathan Purser, a quality assurance specialist in Anniston Army Depot's Directorate of Engineering and Quality shared his story at the installation's Disability Awareness Month luncheon Oct. 20 at the Berman-Varner House.
Purser graciously agreed to step into the role of speaker for the event when Bryan Anderson, a triple amputee and former Army sergeant, fell ill and was unable to attend.
Like Anderson, Purser was wounded as a Soldier and retired from the military as a result of his injuries.
"The Lord was definitely watching over me that day," he said of the November 2003 day when a helicopter crash changed his life.
Purser said he was headed to the front lines in Afghanistan to relieve a fellow mechanic. The helicopter was only 51 miles from the airfield and had just begun to clear the mountains when the crash occurred.
He credits numerous people with his survival, beginning with the person who cut him from his harness, the aid workers who inserted a tube in his throat before it swelled shut and the timely response of a second helicopter's crew.
After he was stabilized and received initial treatment in Afghanistan, Purser was flown to San Antonio, Texas, where 20 surgeries aided him in healing the third degrees burns that covered 15 percent of his body as well as his other injuries, including damage to his index finger, which he joked about with the crowd.
"They got my trigger finger back in useable condition," said Purser, demonstrating by bending his finger. "It still works really well to pull a trigger."
After he was discharged from the hospital, Purser attempted to rejoin his Ranger unit, but his injuries prevented him from serving and he was forced to retire from the Army.
In his remarks at the close of the event, Col. Timothy Sullivan, depot commander remarked about Purser's efforts to rejoin his unit.
"That is what makes Soldiers like Johnathan so special," he said. "All he wanted to do was get back to his unit."
Purser's career at Anniston Army Depot began in 2006 and was facilitated through Army Materiel Command's Always a Soldier Program.