Peru native returns to unit less than one year after helicopter crash

LaFountain was treated at Balad Hospital that night and medically evacuated to the U.S. Army Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, the next day. He recalled joking with the captain who was putting him on the aircraft that "only in the Army would I be in a Black Hawk crash last night and today you would put me on another aircraft."

LaFountain was at Landstuhl for only a day before being put on another aircraft and sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center [in Washington, D.C.], where he was met by his father and his grandmother. His wife, Raechel, arrived a few days later.

LaFountain spent the next several weeks at Walter Reed undergoing surgery and physical therapy. He was treated for a burst fracture in the L-5 vertebrae, a skull fracture, a mild to moderate traumatic brain injury and a corneal abrasion on his left eye.

"It wasn't until I got into physical therapy that I really started nailing down details. I had my surgery on a Thursday afternoon; on Friday morning my physical therapist and occupational therapist came in, they were amazed," said LaFountain, referring to when he could stand up using a walker and stand on one leg and then the next.

LaFountain remembers being disappointed they wouldn't let him try to walk but that just that little bit of movement "took a lot out of me," he said. He still didn't understand their excitement when the next day he walked to the door and back.

"What's the big deal, I am supposed to be able to walk," he said, recalling a conversation with his physical therapist, after becoming an outpatient. "I don't understand what you guys are so excited about, I'm up, I'm walking. This is what people do, this is what soldiers do."

It was then he finally understood the extent of his injuries.

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