It was just another hot, dusty August day in Kabul five years ago, and Army Staff Sgt. Todd M. Nelson was traveling in just another convoy passing just another of the thousands of white Toyota Corollas that crowd Afghanistan’s capital. Except this Corolla was packed with explosives, and as Nelson's convoy passed, the suicide driver detonated them.
The blast blew the Corolla to bits and shredded the right side of the Toyota Land Cruiser where Nelson was sitting. The shock wave crushed his face, smashing the bones behind his cheeks, his forehead and his chin and nose. Jagged chunks of metal and glass slashed across his face, ripping off flesh and muscle and tearing away bone fragments. A fireball followed, searing his right arm, setting his head aflame beneath his helmet, burning off his nose and ears and eyelids, then charring what was left of his face.
A decade ago, Nelson would have had a slim chance of living after a blast like that.
To continue reading the unbelievable story of his recovery, click here.
For Parts I through V of our 'Beyond the Battlefield' series, click here.