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Don't call him a hero
Technical Sgt. Christopher Frost, 316th Wing Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight craftsman and flight NCO in charge, arrived at Andrews on an aeromedical evacuation flight May 23, 2008. Sergeant Frost was on convoy duty as part of a special Weapons Intelligence Team in support of the National Ground Intelligence Center Counter IED Targeting Program in Iraq, when his vehicle was hit by an IED and he lost his leg. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Tech. Sgt. Suzanne Day)
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Don't call him a hero

Posted 3/27/2009   Updated 3/30/2009 Email story   Print story


by Pacifica Chehy
Capital Flyer staff writer

3/27/2009 - ANDREWS AFB, Md. -- On a bright, sunny, first day of spring, the Andrews technical sergeant raised his right hand and re-enlisted. He knew full well the sacrifice he was committing to, for he had already given his right leg in the line of duty.

In Iraq, on another beautiful, sunny day in May 2008, Tech. Sgt. Christopher Frost, now a 316th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal flight craftsman and NCO in charge, was planning to do his laundry. He then got a call that there was an improvised explosive devise detonation with casualties.

"I was about six months into my one-year tour when I got blown up," Sergeant Frost said. "I was working as a weapons intelligence team leader with the Army in the 101st Airborne. Our job was going in after the IED hit and being like the TV show "CSI" - you know, where you go and collect evidence and find out what did it, who did it and basically uncover what happened. We were responding to a call and were 150 meters away from the site when we found the IED the hard way - it blew up on us."

He remained conscious during incident and with his previous training as a paramedic prior to entering the Air Force, he knew the extent of his injuries as soon as it happened. Sergeant Frost credits the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle he was in for saving his life. Not everyone was as fortunate.

"Four of us were seriously wounded and one of us ended up passing away," he said.

Within 20 minutes of the incident, he was being treated at a nearby military facility.

"That's where they told me my right leg had to come off. It was pretty well damaged," he said. In addition to the loss of his right leg, Sergeant Frost had a plate put in below his right eye and had on his left foot. He said he stopped counting how many surgeries he has had after around 40.

Sergeant Frost arrived at Andrews May 23, 2008, and has been at Walter Reed Amy Medical Center outpatient clinic since the end of June. He said his care there has been "top-notch," but his journey to re-enlistment hasn't been easy.

"I'm re-enlisting in the Air Force and it's a big deal for me," he said. "To think that just 10 months ago, I was injured, showing up on a [medical evacuation] plane here with one leg, and now I'm choosing to continue to serve my country - this has proved quite the journey."

Originally a paramedic from the Bay Area of California, Sergeant Frost first enlisted in 1996.

"I joined the Air Force to travel around, see the world," he said. "I was going to school and just wanted to change up my life." He chose the EOD field over the medical field to be a part of that change. He has gotten to see the world as his career has taken him from Hill AFB, Utah, to Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, to Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England and even a few days in Lithuania.

Sergeant Frost got more change than he ever imagined when he got home from Iraq and the healing process began, he said. He has learned to walk with a prosthetic leg and has since forged new ground as a wounded warrior in the policy side of the Air Force.

When he came home, the Air Force policy was to assign wounded warriors a patient Air Force Specialty Code, said Tech. Sgt. Rena Banes, 316th Force Support Squadron, NCO in charge of the career development team. Under that AFSC, the wounded warrior was in a holding pattern while they were either medically cleared to return to duty or medically retired.

Sergeant Frost was in a new trend of warriors returning with injuries, Sergeant Banes said.

"He wanted to be doing the job he was trained to do for the Air Force, even with his injuries," she said. Because of warriors like him, the Air Force created a new wounded warrior AFSC, 9W200, in February. This secondary AFSC allows them to get all the treatments and entitlements they should have due to their medical needs, but to still be able to test for promotions and have all the other benefits of belonging and being cared for by a squadron.
The new AFSC was a start, but still didn't completely satisfy Sergeant Frost's desire to serve, since it didn't have a provision for re-enlistment.

"Sergeant Frost's exception to policy to re-enlist while coded as a wounded warrior was the first to be approved at Air Staff level," Sergeant Banes said.

For his actions during the IED attack and his time in Iraq, Sergeant Frost was awarded the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the Combat Action Medal.

His colleagues are inspired by his determination to remain a valuable part of the Air Force family.

"In spite of everything, Sergeant Frost has kept such an upbeat and positive attitude," said Capt. Nicole Dusang, 316 CES EOD flight commander. "The Air Force takes care of our wounded warriors and you can see this in Sergeant Frost's situation. I admire his strength and selflessness, especially as it relates to how he thinks of those who will come after him. His reenlistment is indicative of Sergeant Frost's support of the Air Force and its mission and the Air Force's support of him. I'm really proud of him and I think he's done a great thing for the service."

He deflects such high praise with professional humility and insists he's not a hero. His fellow EOD technician voiced it for him.

"He's just doing what any other tech would do, and it's what we've trained to do," said Staff Sgt. Ethan Moritz. "It's kind of bred into us, 'Don't stop. Don't quit.' We just don't quit. We just don't quit."

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