Full Transcript is Below:
– Hi, my name is Arthur Coleman III, and I am a wounded warrior, and also a Purple Heart recipient. And I am honored to be the June, 2021 NFM Salute. Welcome to my home.
– Arthur, thank you for allowing us into your home, and for being our June, 2021 NFM Salute. Most importantly, thank you for your service.
– Thank you, and I’m honored.
– You were in the midst of your fourth deployment at the time you were wounded. It was April 11th, 2004. You were in Iraq. What do you remember about that day?
– It was Easter. Just got off the phone with my family. I was on a route to go back to my camp, Camp Bhadewala, and I was blown up and shot several times.
– You were hit five times.
– Fortunately for you, you had luck on your side that day. The majority of the bullets went into your arm.
– My arm was blasted apart where I can see right through it. I can see between the bones. And I seen it was a hole up here. And this right here was all bloody. Had shrapnel all in my hand. So all these lumps in my hand here, feel all the lumps? There’s still metal and pieces still in my hand. This hand was shattered. This, this finger was shattered. This finger was shattered. I can’t even bend too tight. So they did a good job putting metal to wrap around it. Then I have here a bullet still in my elbow. And they never took it out. Yep. And then I had several gunshot wounds here. They came up here to be pretty good flesh wounds that come clean, get in and out. So they did a skin graft fasciotomy and a debridement and they was able to get out a lot of this stuff.
– And the one bullet that didn’t hit your arm is the bullet that should have taken your life, but didn’t.
– Thanks to a checkbook from Bank of America, which is right here. Tell us about that story and how that saved your life.
– I was making the exit out of my vehicle. So when I was climbing over the middle console of the vehicle, and they were still shooting, it went into the right buttocks. It came through here. And you can see the blood stain is still on there.
– And this prevented the bullet from piercing your liver.
– Correct. It was a couple of millimeters thick, less than a half an inch. And, and that’s how far it was from my liver.
– And there’s no question that would have taken your life?
– Well, I would have had like 15, 20 minutes to get some type of dialysis or something like that. But I mean so who’s going to perform that type of care on you and you still collecting rounds? You still getting shot at.
– Your leg was also injured. What happened?
– In the explosion, some of the debris from the explosion exploded at the bottom of the vehicle. And I had a bar that went through my boot and came out the other side. So in order for me to get out the vehicle I had to pull the bar out with pliers. And what came out with the pliers was a bunch of blood just oozing out of my boot that was coming out of my foot.
– So how are you able to move now? What is your mobility like with your arm and your leg due to those injuries?
– According to my doctor, he said I was built like a Mack truck. But I do have quite a bit of limitations. As far as my writing, lifting, things like that. As far as walking, my limitations are significant but not enough to keep me from walking.
– It turns out April 11th, 2004 wasn’t the only day you had luck on your side. This helmet right here was on your head on a previous mission where it was struck by bullets. What do you remember about that day?
– Basically, it was a lucky miss. Because this is a dead on headshot. Two inches below, then…
– You’re not here today.
– Living that experience with this helmet, living that experience with the checkbook. Does it make you feel like someone’s out there looking out for you? What kind of inspiration does that give you to live the fullest life you can, knowing how close you came to not being here?
– I’m blessed. That’s the best way to sum it up. This is beyond luck.
– Well, you’ve done a lot with your life. Since you came back, you’ve become a lawyer. You’ve become an advocate for other wounded warriors. Tell us about those things.
– My mission is to continue to serve. And I love serving other veterans. And whether it’s on Capitol Hill, or in a courtroom, or you know, dealing with the VA, this is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life.
– You are so distinguished. And there’s so many other things to look at here that you received due to your time and service. This certainly has to be up there among those distinctions. You’re a Purple Heart recipient.
– When you look at this Purple Heart, what does it mean to you?
– My second chance at life. Because you know Memorial Day is coming up, and most of our members are graveside.
– Well this Salute is in June. So we will, people will be watching this on Memorial Day and the days after. Let’s touch on Memorial Day for a moment. It’s a misunderstood holiday by some. You know some people will walk up to a Veteran on Memorial Day and say thank you for your service. That’s not what the day is all about, is it?
– No, it’s not. It’s about the individuals who gave all. I have a lot of friends who gave all. They didn’t come back home.
– Father was in Vietnam.
– Was that an inspiration for you?
– He was an inspiration. And we believe in serving our country.
– What’s that flag mean to you? When you see it raised before a football game, and you hear the Star Spangled Banner? I know you’re a tremendous Atlanta Falcon fan. So you, you follow football really closely. When you hear those words, what goes on inside your soul?
– Freedom. A chance for a better life. No place is perfect, but here is the only place you have a chance for a better life.
– And you helped give us all a better life. And for that, we’re all so grateful.
– Yeah, anytime.
– Thank you, Arthur.
– Well, thank you.
– We appreciate you and we appreciate your service.
– Thank you.