During dark times, retired Lance Cpl. Sean Adams will relive the moments that led to the loss of his legs.
He replays every action, every movement and every decision. He dissects those final seconds, picking them apart and studying them. What could he have done differently on Feb. 10, 2012? What if he hadn’t stepped on a bomb?
It’s these kinds of thoughts he hates. They send him down the wrong path, birthing dark apparitions in his mind. For distraction, he turns on the television. He picks up a newspaper. But, there’s a lot of bad news out there.
“The past few months, I’ve really needed a break,” said Adams, a 22-year-old Gainesville resident and U.S. Marine. “I needed to be someplace where I could just kind of think about everything.”
Fellow veteran Rick Jones thought up just the remedy: a 10-day trip to the other side of this continent.
Adams returned last week from an Alaskan excursion funded through the support of generous donors, friends and family. It was Jones’ brainchild. In March, the Snellville resident started a crowdfunding page devoted to the cause of sending Adams on an angling and sightseeing adventure to “The Last Frontier.”
Jones, who took a trip there years ago, thought it was a shame that a young and avid outdoorsman like Adams had never had the chance to land a salmon.
Having now caught many, many salmon, Adams was glad he was able to make the journey.
“The fishing was awesome,” Adams said. “It was similar to fishing for trout, but these fish fight really hard.”
He said the trip was also “quite relaxing. Even when we weren’t catching anything, it was just relaxing being out there.”
In addition to salmon fishing, Adams and girlfriend Callie Baize went to Brooks Falls and saw some grizzly bears, as well as bald eagles “everywhere.”
Upon arriving back in Georgia, Adams touched base with Jones to give the full debriefing.
“It sounds like they had a great time,” Jones said. “I think it really was the trip of a lifetime for Sean and Callie.”
Having exceeded the fundraising goal of $10,000, Jones said he was able to donate the surplus funds to a military agency that advocates for veterans.
“The outpouring of support to send Sean on this trip, it was amazing,” Jones said.
Jones found out about Adams initially by reading articles about him in the paper.
“I learned what he’d been through,” Jones said. “He was feeling a lot of the same stuff I went through years ago. And, I don’t remember how I came through it, but it wasn’t easy.”
In 1983, Jones was injured during a training exercise while stationed with the 902d Military Intelligence Unit at Fort Meade, Md.
“When I was 18, I broke my neck and had to learn to walk again,” Jones said. “I got messed up real bad, but not to the degree that (Adams) is dealing with.”
Adams, a 2011 graduate of Chestatee High School, was serving in the Helmand province of Afghanistan when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. He lost his legs, and his hands were damaged.
“He’s so young,” Jones said. “And, he’s been through a lot. We wanted to do something for Sean that he’d never forget.”
Adams said that, at first, he didn’t know what to make of Jones’ idea.
“To have someone like Rick approach me about going to Alaska, at first I didn’t know how to take it,” Adams said. “I didn’t know why he would pick me over someone else. I didn’t feel like I deserved something like this.”
Added Adams: “But, it was good. I needed a break. It helped.”