In February 2011, Sergeant Ben Seekell, and his military working dog, Charlie, deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, as part of the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron. In the early morning of May 8, 2011, Sergeant Seekell, Charlie and his team were called to perform a security mission outside the airfield. While crossing a gap on their return to the airfield, Sergeant Seekell and Charlie made it only a few steps before the ground below exploded, thrusting them into the air. Not realizing that his own leg was nearly gone, Sergeant Seekell’s first reaction was to attend to his team, including Charlie. Charlie had multiple shrapnel wounds to his hind quarters and his ear drums had burst during the explosion.
During a five month recovery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital, Sergeant Seekell demonstrated superior courage – to heal, defy the odds, and serve his country again in spite of his severe injuries. Sergeant Seekell underwent a total of five surgeries to reduce the risk of infection and determine the ideal length of his residual limb to best support a prosthetic device. Despite extreme pain and pressure, one of the most difficult things he encountered on his road to recovery was assuring his wife and children that he was all right.
He focused on his healing for the Air Force, but more importantly, for his family. Sergeant Seekell’s wife, Meagan, and their three small children were by his side during his entire recovery. From the beginning, Sergeant Seekell was determined to return as a fully capable military working dog handler, work with Charlie, and return to the fight. For the next four months, he dedicated four to five hours each day to physical therapy and getting fit for his prosthesis.
This dedication resulted in Sergeant Seekell scoring a 93.5 percent on the Air Force physical fitness test just eight months after losing his leg. Owing to his tenacity in rehabilitation and his drive to rejoin the fight, Sergeant Seekell is once again serving on Active Duty in the Air Force with Charlie by his side. He is truly an inspiration and role model for every wounded warrior.