By Staff Sgt. Anthony JohnsonFebruary 11, 2019
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (Feb. 07, 2019) -- "Actually, I don't remember anything, but what I was told is on that day, we were released for lunch, leaving from the motorpool and that's when a car hit me" said Spc Luke Sanders, a paratrooper assigned 1st Battalion 325th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. Sanders was hit by car on Aug. 01, 2018, at 10:58 am while crossing through a designated crosswalk on Ft Bragg.
Today, just six months and seven days after his accident, a resilient attitude toward recovery Sanders is leading his unit in a battalion run down Ardennes St.
"I remember a few of my guys from golf company coming to visit me, a couple of my best friends from Arizona came to see me, I remember bits and pieces of that. One of my earliest memories after coming out of a narcotic induced coma was, am I paralyzed? The way my legs felt I though I was paralyzed", said Sanders.
On the day of the accident Sanders was evacuated to Womack Army Medical Center, where he received a Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE scan which indicated he had severe intracranial hemorrhaging. Sanders was listed in critical condition and not stable enough to be transported to level-one trauma center, UNC Health Care, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Eventually, Sanders condition improved enough for his transport to UNC Health Care where he was under constant observation and went through a series of medical procedures and examinations.
"He was expected, worst case scenario, that he may not make it, was the initial report that we received" said Lt. Col. Anthony Keller, commander, 1st Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment. Keller also said, "medical professionals were even determining or considering if they should even do any additional medical care".
On a cool and cloudy morning before reveille, Keller gathered his battalion in a horseshoe-shaped formation around an enlarged photo of Sanders during his recovery. The photo of Sanders is harrowingly bleak. One could hardly believe that anyone could survive after seeing the photo.
"Months later from this picture, Luke remained resilient, for every two steps forward Luke took he was taken a step back, but that did not stop him. Last report from Luke's father, Mr. Sanders wants to tell you, thank you for the unconditional support that you have given to Luke and his family, whether through visits, going to Chapel Hill, whether its praying for him or just giving him a call, thank you," said Keller. A brief moment of silence was interrupted when Keller called on Sanders to come to the front of the formation. "Spc. Sanders post!" called Keller.
Sanders emerged from the battalion building to a roar of applause from the crowd as the paratroopers assembled back into formation to salute the flag.
Sanders, along with the battalion colors led unit down Ardennes Street past the Hall of Hero's and the 82nd War Memorial Museum. With sweat dripping from his brow, Sanders guided the sea of paratroopers back to the battalion and broke away from the formation to greet his fellow service members with handshakes as they returned.
After the run Keller turned the formation over to Sanders, "it's an honor to be running with you guys this morning. It's a memory I will never forget. The amount of support that I have received from this battalion all the way up to the brigade commander is nothing short of inspirational and that's what's given me that drive to get back here with you Soldiers this morning," said Sanders.
Sanders and his gratitude for others can be a sign of inspiration to all of us. He was on the receiving end of a difficult experience that nearly cost him his life. If the definition of resilience is to recover from difficulties and to harbor toughness, than Spc. Luke Sanders is a synonym for resilience.