Many of the things I have heard Sean tell the doctors and therapists were news to me. These were the things he kept from me to make sure I felt he was safe. These were also things he tried to hide from himself and not remember.
During his service in Iraq, Sean had two falls from 5 ton trucks in which he “saw stars.” He was also involved in at least three mortar attacks where he was in close proximity to the blasts.
The most significant blast occurred in March of 2006 a week before he came home on leave. A group of soldiers was standing in a parking lot when several mortar rounds came in. The warning sirens were going off for a different area. The first blast hit at the perimeter fence approximately 80 yards away. The second was about 50 yards out and the third around 20 yards out. The fourth round landed within 10-15 feet of where they were standing. Sean reports that he was pelted with rocks, saw stars and bright light, and may have been unconcious for a brief time. He was not wearing protective gear.
Sean says that following the blast he was dizzy, had a headache, marked hearing loss, had light sensitivity, and his night vision was significantly decreased. These symptoms did not improve over time.
There were also many occasions where mortars and rockets were fired into the ASP (ammunition supply point). He tells of many nights when he wouldn’t hear the blast or siren, but would wake up on the floor of his hut having been thrown from his bunk, or rolling for cover.
Another duty of the ammunition inspectors was to clean out vehicles in the “boneyard.” This is the place on base where all the broken down or exploded vehicles are parked. Each vehicle needed to be throughly inspected for ammunition to be destroyed. These vehicles were not cleaned out before they came into the boneyard. Sean says he is haunted by images of body parts and blood that he encountered while rummaging through the vehicles.