CAPTAIN US ARMY
"When I got hit I knew that I could die...I wasn't so much afraid of dying, and I wasn't thinking about heaven or hell," Pruden said
solemnly. "I was just thinking'God, I want to get home and see Amy.' The only thing that upset me was that Amy wouldn't get to see
me again and that we had been looking so forward to getting back together. The overriding thought was I gotta get home to Amy."
July 1, 2003 Pruden, his commander and a driver were traveling back across eastern Baghdad on the main road. The driver had something
in his eye, so Pruden offered to drive. The Humvee with no doors was coasting along and then, as Pruden recalled, "the whole world
Captain Pruden was assigned to the Third Infantry Division and was one of Operation Iraqi Freedom's first victims of an
improvised explosive device, or IED. "They hadn't perfected it yet, so ie detonated a little bit early or else I wouldn't be here,"he
Captain Pruden caught 133 pieces of shrapnel in his body. A bullet went through his left leg and into his right one. He couldn't
see out of his left eye or move his left arm. Both his eardrums were ruptured. A softball-size hole ripped in his back. The artery
in leg was so badly severed, it was spewing blood across the windshield. Pruden thought it was a hit hydraulic line, but then he realized
he was bleeding out. His injuries were the worst among the three passengers.
After life-saving surgery at a combat support hospital
in Iraq, Pruden was flown to Germany for more surgeries. Then he was transported to Walter Reed, where he and his wife were finally
"I had never felt as much relief or comfort,"he said. "Just seeing her was just amazing."
Captain Pruden was at Walter Reed
for two months. Thr entire time, Amy was at the Fisher House, where military families can stay for free or at low cost while loved
ones receive treatment at nearby militay and VA medical centers.
When they left D.C., the Prudens returned to Fort Stewart. For two
years, he had more operations and rehab, but he was still in a wheelchair and could only walk across a room. Pruden began to notice
his peers who had amputations. They were recovering quickly and living productive, active lives. He slowly realized what he needed
In June 2005, after 20 previous surgeries, Captain Pruden had his right leg amputated. He said it was probably "the easiest
surgery I ever had." Later that summer, the couple moved to Gainesville, Florida. In December 2005, he was medically retired from
the Army with numerous honors, including the purple Heart and Army Commendation Medal for Valor.
Today Captain Pruden is the outreach
coordinator for the Wounded Warrior Project headquatered in Jacksonville, Florida. His region covers South Carolina, Florida, Georgia
and Alabama. The
non-profit organization helps wounded members of the military cope with their injuries, navigate the government benefits
system and transition back to civilian life. Pruden said the program is about friendship and empowerment - warriors reaching back
to help warriors.
CAPTAIN JONATHAN PRUDEN
WOUNDED WARRIOR PROJECT
Army Commendation Medal
with V for Valor
CLICK ON LOGO ABOVE
ALACHUA COUNTY VETERANS DAY
By Lashonda Stinson Curry
CAPTAIN JONATHAN PRUDEN FAMILY
WIFE AMY, SON WILLIAM, DAUGHTER ABIGAIL
CAPTAIN JONATHAN PRUDEN