CPL Nick Orchowski
Army Corporal Nick Orchowski was on his first deployment when he was left a quadriplegic after being thrown from the gunner’s hatch of a vehicle that was hit during an insurgents' attack, in Baghdad, Iraq in May 2004. Married only four days before deploying to Iraq, CPL Orchowski was the main gunner of the lead vehicle in a convoy, when they came under attack while on the main supply route leading into Baghdad. An insurgent's vehicle ambushed the convoy, slamming into CPL Orchowski’s vehicle, the impact disabling the truck and throwing Nick out of the gunner’s hatch. With his right shoulder pushed into his cervical spine area, CPL Orchowski suffered fractures of C4, C5, and C6 vertebrae and was immediately paralyzed from the neck down. As a medic worked to save his life, shots continued ring out and the ambush raged on. Nick's last thoughts before falling unconscious were of his wife and unborn child..., "This wasn't supposed to happen...is this how it's going to end?" Airlifted to Landstuhl, Germany and then to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, his next memory was waking up on a respirator, unable to move, his head in a HALO device.
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