August 13, 2019
Brandon Long (In His Own Words):
I was born and raised in Fort Wayne Indiana and knew from the age of 5 that I wanted to be a Marine. My mother's uncle served in the Air Force and he was a big idol of mine. I wanted to be like him and he helped to encourage me. When I was a sophomore in high school, I got into some trouble with the law and I was no longer able to join the Marine Corps. I knew that I had to try anyways. I had to talk to the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps and the Commandant for 3 months for them to make an exception and let me join. I am so thankful they did. I was able to join the Marine Corps in February of 2009. Somehow my recruiter got me to become an early graduate so I did half my senior year. In February of 2009, I started my Marine Corps career with boot camp in sunny San Diego, California. Boot camp went by pretty fast and it was a lot of fun. After boot camp, I went to Infantry School at Camp Pendleton. Once that was completed, I was placed with my unit, 3rd Battalion 5th Marines out of San Mateo in Camp Pendleton. When I got with those men, i realized I was in it for real now (lol). I trained with AMAZING men and learned a lot from them. We found out around January of 2010 that we were going to be leaving for Afghanistan at the end of September. The work up for that deployment was pretty intense but very fun. On September 28, 2010, we loaded up on buses and headed to the airport for Afghanistan. It didn't take long before we were there. I remember walking off the helicopter and seeing a massive black cloud from something that exploded earlier in the day. It was a complete culture shock for me. We spent 2-3 days getting our gear ready and making sure we knew what we were doing and where we were going. We then took a helicopter ride to our main F.O.B. called Nolay. It was nick named 'No Legs' by the Brits. We spent a day there and the we were drove to our patrol base. From then on, while I was overseas, we never used vehicles again. It was all foot patrols.
Immediately we took a lot of contact every day. We started having injuries pretty quick. Seeing one of your brothers laying on the ground injured is a hard thing to process but this is war and we have to adapt and over come. Of those many men that were injured, I served with Lt. Robert Kelly (General Kelly's son). Lt. Kelly was my LT and he was motivated as hell. On December 21,2010, I was reunited with my squad of men after being apart for about 2 weeks. This is also the day that changed my life. We went on patrol early in the morning and i was on point. Everything was going good for the first few hours until i came across the Helmand River. There I found rocks stacked on top of each other on each side of the road. This was consistent for almost a mile with about 5 feet in between the stack rocks and the were spaced out wide enough for a vehicle to drive in the middle.. Towards the end of the rocks, there was a little path on the right that had the same concept with the rocks but now the path was like a walking path of stacked rocks. The rocks lead to a big bush where you could see that someone cut the top of the bush so you could see behind it. On the other side of that bush was about 50 stacks of rocks in a 10 foot circle. As I went to step over the bush to investigate more and find a wire or something to indicate it was an IED, I put my foot down and the explosive went off. Immediately, I was thrown in the air, landing on my right side. I opened my eyes and the dust was every where and I couldn't breath. I knew right then what happened but didn't know how bad. I laid on my back and told myself "I have to see how bad this is". i went to lift my right leg and instead pulled the bone out of the leg. I went unconscious for a minute or so before regaining consciousness. While I was out, I had visions of seeing my daughter who was about to be born, I got to see my wife (now ex), and I got to experience what I think was heaven. When I regained consciousness, I was not allowed any pain medications or it would have stopped my heart. I don't remember exactly how look it took for the Medevac team to get to me but it felt like forever. I remember asking my men if I could ever ride a bike again and they said not to worry about it. When I was on board the Medevac, they were finally able to properly put me under. One of the medics saw that I had severe internal bleeding and if he didn't do something, I wouldn't make it to the hospital. So he took out his knife and cut my stomach open so he could dump out the blood. Come to find out, there was a LARGE rock inside my stomach sitting just below my lungs. The rock had entered through my leg during the explosion. When I got to the hospital in Afghanistan, they did everything they needed to to get me ready for coming home. I unfortunately woke up. When they pulled the air tube out, I was able to make a phone call home. I called my wife and told her I was injured and that I loved her. She was going into labor at that moment. I called back a few hours later and I could hear my baby girl crying in the background. It was the happiest/saddest moment in my life.
When I got home to the USA, recovery was pretty difficult. I was on a lot of heavy medications and my body doesn't handle medications too well. The first 2 1/2 years are kinda blurry for me. I remember some things. When I got out of the military, I went back home to Indiana. But, I had forgotten that it snowed there and I was in a wheelchair now. So my wife and I decided to move to Florida. I had never been before. We moved here and built a house. Unfortunately though, we did end up separating not too long after moving. And that's where my motorcycle came into play. My wife wouldn't let me buy a motorcycle because she didn't want me getting hurt. However, when we separated, I went straight to Adamec Harley-Davidson and bought my first trike!! The people there were great! They had never modified a motorcycle before and I had never seen one in person, so we collaborated together and did our research. They were able to help me take my ideas and turn it into a reality. This is my 2nd Harley Davidson now. I plan on getting more.