“Actually, I don’t remember anything, but what I was told is on that day, we were released for lunch, leaving from the motorpool and that’s when a car hit me,” said Spc. Luke Sanders, a paratrooper assigned to 1st Battalion 325th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. Sanders was hit by car on Aug. 1, 2018 at 10:58 a.m. while crossing through a designated crosswalk on Fort Bragg.
Today, just six months and seven days after his accident, a resilient attitude toward recovery Sanders is leading his unit in a battalion run down Ardennes Street.
“I remember a few of my guys from golf company coming to visit me, a couple of my best friends from Arizona came to see me. I remember bits and pieces of that. One of my earliest memories after coming out of a narcotic induced coma was, am I paralyzed? The way my legs felt, I thought I was paralyzed,” said Sanders.
On the day of the accident, Sanders was evacuated to Womack Army Medical Center, where he received a Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE scan, which indicated he had severe intracranial hemorrhaging. Sanders was listed in critical condition and not stable enough to be transported to level-one trauma center at UNC Health Care, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Eventually, Sanders’ condition improved enough for his transport to UNC Health Care where he was under constant observation and went through a series of medical procedures and examinations.
Lt. Col. Anthony Keller, commander, 1st Bn., 325th Infantry Regiment, was expecting the worst case scenario because “he may not make it” was the initial report that they received. Keller also said, “medical professionals were even determining or considering if they should even do any additional medical care.”
On a cool and cloudy morning before reveille, Keller gathered his battalion in a horseshoe-shaped formation around an enlarged photo of Sanders during his recovery.
The photo of Sanders is harrowingly bleak. One could hardly believe that anyone could survive after seeing the photo.
“Months later from this picture, Luke remained resilient. For every two steps forward Luke took, he was taken a step back, but that did not stop him. Luke’s father, Mr. Sanders, wants to tell you, thank you for the unconditional support that you have given to Luke and his Family. Whether through visits, going to Chapel Hill, whether its praying for him or just giving him a call, thank you,” said Keller. A brief moment of silence was interrupted when Keller called on Sanders to come to the front of the formation. “Spc. Sanders post!” called Keller.
Sanders emerged from the battalion building to a roar of applause from the crowd as the paratroopers assembled back into formation to salute the flag.
Sanders, along with the battalion colors, led the unit down Ardennes Street past the Hall of Heroes and the 82nd Airborne Division War Memorial Museum. With sweat dripping from his brow, Sanders guided the sea of paratroopers back to the battalion and broke away from the formation to greet his fellow service members with handshakes as they returned.
After the run, Keller turned the formation over to Sanders, “It’s an honor to be running with you guys this morning. It’s a memory I will never forget. The amount of support that I have received from this battalion all the way up to the brigade commander is nothing short of inspirational and that’s what’s given me that drive to get back here with you Soldiers this morning,” said Sanders.