ON SEPTEMBER 25, 2011, Kevin Flike, a 27-year-old Green Beret with the 1st Special Forces Group, was on patrol with his team in the mountains of northwestern Afghanistan when they found an enemy building — a house Taliban fighters were using to make improvised explosive devices. Flike was a combat engineer in the Special Forces. He blew up the bombs, but a 10-hour firefight unfolded. Pinned down and under heavy fire, a Taliban sniper shot Flike in the stomach, while Flike was running around the corner of a building. “It felt like getting hit with a sledgehammer,” Flike recalls.
The sixth operation was an experimental surgery designed to repair nerve damage in the leg. To buffer the pain, Flike was prescribed twelve pills of Dilaudid, 12 morphine pills, and 2 Valium — daily.