2016 Honoree – Corporal Adam Keys

Corporal Adam Keys

Adam was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia and lived there until 1998 until the age of thirteen. He has one sister, Courtney. Adam was a member of the Boy Scouts and Air Cadets. He attended his first boot camp with Air Cadets at Greenwood Base in Nova Scotia. He participated in soccer and was on a summer competitive swim team, the Bedford Beavers. His first year of Air Cadets he received the award for Outstanding Cadet and also received various medals for his swimming. He loved to go fishing and his father would often take him and his sister on overnight fishing trips. He enjoys all sports but, of course, in Canada he and his father went to many hockey games. We moved to Whitehall, Pennsylvania in 1998 because his father was offered a job there.

In the spring of 2008 he decided to join up and he left for boot camp in Sept 2008 at Fort Leonardwood, Missouri.

He finished boot camp in November 2008 and stayed at Fort Leonardwood for his AIT training and then went to Fort Benning for Airborne school and then was posted to Fort Bragg. He is a combat engineer. He was deployed from Fort Bragg to Afghanistan in December 2009 and was there until his injury on July 14, 2010.

Adam was in an armored vehicle when they were hit with an IED. The IED was 1,000 lbs+ of explosive. There were five of them in the vehicle and Adam was the only survivor. One of the other soldiers with him that day was Spc Jesse Reed. Adam met Jesse when we first moved to Whitehall and they became best friends. They graduated together, worked together and eventually enlisted together. Jesse left for boot camp in May 2008 and Adam in September 2008. They followed the same path through boot camp, job training and were both stationed at Fort Bragg. They deployed together and were roommates in Afghanistan. We initially received word about Jesse being killed through his family and the the next day received word from the Army that Adam had been critically injured. Adam’s injuries were critical but stable, he had numerous broken bones, an eye injury and a severe brain injury. He was treated at Khandar, Bagram Air Force Base, Langstul Base in Germany and then flown to Walter Reed Hospital. He arrived stateside on July 20, 2010.

Adam was in the ICU for 15 days at Walter Reed. He got a serious infection which led to many complications. His condition worsened and he was given a 1% chance of making it. The infection attacked his body which was already in a weakened state and eventually led to severe skin problems, liver and kidney failure and the amputation of his left hand, right leg above the knee and left leg below the knee. It was suggested at this time that Adam be transferred to Texas, to Brooke Army Medical Center, however, he was too sick and could not make a trip of that distance. He was transferred to R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, Maryland. He was there from Aug 5, 2010 until Jan 5, 2011. The soft tissue team did extensive skin grafting and wound care and the trauma team treated his medical issues. Adam was in a coma for a month and during his time at Shock Trauma had brief periods of wakefulness but was not really aware of what was going on. On September 29 he was transferred from ICU to a step down unit. He was in surgery twice a week by this time and on Jan 5, 2011 he was transferred back to Walter Reed. He spent 8 months as inpatient and on Aug 19, 2011 was transferred to Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas for wound care. He had extensive skin grafts and the wounds were not closing so this is why they sent him to Texas. They did a great job and we were transferred back to the new Walter Reed at Bethesda, Maryland on October 18, 2012. He was released to outpatient on Nov 4, 2011 and he now resides at the building for wounded warriors on the post of Walter Reed.

His daily routine was physical therapy from 8 – 12 Monday to Friday. Doctor appointments were scheduled in the afternoon and he has the evening and weekends off. He is doing very well and he took his first steps on his prosthetics the first week in January 2012. Since then he has been working very hard and can now walk with the aid of a walker or canes.

He had two immediate goals: one to jump out of a plane again and the other to lead the run up to Long Street at Fort Bragg. Both of these he accomplished in March 2012 when he went back to Fort Bragg for the first time since his injury. He jumped in tandem with the Golden Knights and he led the run in his wheelchair. In September of 2012 he participated in The Tunnel to Towers 5k run in New York and was able to walk about ¾ of the race.

In November of 2012 he had additional surgery on his left leg. The knee had not been able to bend since the injury and the doctors were unable to get any range of motion and therefore the amputation was revised to through the knee. He will be refitted for new prosthetics in March 2013.

In October of 2014 Adam had reconstructive abdominal surgery to regain core muscles. He had been continuing with physical therapy and can now walk unaided on his prosthetics. He also swims and hand cycles and in April 2015 participated (and completed) the Boston Marathon.

“Adam’s dream was to join the military and he fulfilled that dream. He has no regrets. Through the past 4½ years he has had the most positive attitude and he inspires me every day. He gets up every day ready to face the challenge and he knows he will get back to his life and leave the hospital. My husband and I could not be prouder of our amazing son.”

Adam’s goals for the future are to go back to work and lead a regular life. Right now he is concentrating on getting healthy and walking.

Faces of Valor USA, with the help of many local folks, will be finishing Adams basement and putting in a man cave and exercise room.

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