HAMMOND, Ind. (CBS) — Indiana National Guard Spc. Doug Rachowicz barely survived a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in January. Four of his fellow soldiers died in the attack.
Rachowicz came home to Hammond, Ind., on Tuesday, after months of rehab and coping with the loss of his friends.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov has the story of a man who does not want to be called hero.
Family, friends and neighbors cheered as Rachowicz got out of a limousine on Tuesday at his home, giving the soldier a patriot’s homecoming.
Rachowicz almost didn’t come home at all.
“I don’t remember anything from that day at all,” he said after arriving home.
Three months ago, Rachowicz was severely injured in a bomb blast in Afghanistan. He was left in a coma, with dozens of fractured and broken bones throughout his body. He was the only survivor of a roadside bomb that hit his military vehicle in Afghanistan and killed four fellow guardsmen.
“I think about them every day, and I miss them like crazy. I lot four great friends,” Rachowicz said.
Unit medic Zachary Carter was just a few vehicles behind at the time of the explosion.
“I could hear the blast from where we were at,” he said. “For the first few seconds, I wasn’t sure if it was a blast, or incoming (fire). So, we were looking around, and we heard over the radio that Rachowicz’s truck had been hit by an IED (improvised explosive device).”
Rachowicz didn’t know the others in his vehicle were dead for almost two months. His family waited until a week after he regained consciousness to tell him.
“For the first few weeks, I really, I blamed myself pretty much, and was wondering why I was still here and they were gone,” Rachowicz said.
He gives Carter a lot of credit for saving his life, but Carter was more humble about the help he gave his comrade.
“I bought him time. There’s so many surgeons out in Afghanistan, and here at home, that just really … they’re the ones that are helping him move about. While I was down there, I just, I did what I could, and I got him out of there as quick as I could” Carter said.
It was clear Rachowicz was glad to be home. He spent the afternoon smiling, with his 12-year-old son usually by his side.
He’s moving forward, but he’ll never forget.
Asked how it felt to be received as a hero when he came home, Rachowicz said, “I definitely don’t feel worthy of it. The guys that were lost were a lot more worthy than I am.”
Rachowicz has eight titanium plates in his face, and two screws holding his pelvis together. He’ll be home for 30 days, then he’ll go back for more treatment and wait for his next active duty assignment.