As a medic, Sgt. Kelly "Special K" Keck often went above and beyond to help others. But on September 13, 2008, he stepped on a land mine while helping his fellow soldiers, who had been wounded by a roadside bomb. Kelly lost part of his leg.
"When it happened, I knew right then. It was kind of like I looked down [and thought], 'Oh, my leg's gone,' and my hand was over here and I reached over to grab my leg and, like, 'Oh, some of my fingers are gone,'" he says. "And it's like, 'Well, it's not there. I'm going to have to live without and go from there.'"
In November, the 34-year-old was awarded the Purple Heart for his actions, and he has been recovering at Walter Reed since his injury. By his side are his wife, Oxana, and their 3-year-old daughter, Zoya.
Once Kelly realized how badly he was injured, he says he could only think about his younger brother. "He was over there with me. So as they put me on the helicopter, he was at another base than they were taking me to, so I asked them to make sure he was there as soon as I got there," Kelly says. "He was the first one in my family to meet me and greet me and be with me for a few days."
Now that he's stateside, Kelly says he worries about his brother serving overseas. Still, he's grateful his brother was there when he needed him most. "I thought, of course, [with him] being the younger brother, that I would be taking care of him," Kelly says. "But he took care of me for a few days."