Ezra Maes was deployed with the Army in Poland last year when the tank they were sleeping in as part of an overnight training exercise when they were all woke up by the tank rolling downhill. The driver screamed the brakes weren't working and the tank reached a speed that was later determined to be around 90 MPH before it crashed. Ezra was sent flying across the tank and according to the Department of Defense his leg ended up being caught in a gear. When he called for help, no one responded. Now fearing for the lives of his fellow soldiers he became determined to get to them, no matter what the personal cost to himself. “I pushed and pulled at my leg as hard as I could to get loose and felt a sharp tear. I thought I had dislodged my leg, but when I moved away, my leg was completely gone.”
“I knew I was going into shock. All I could think about was no one knows we’re down here,” he said. “Either I step up or we all die.”
Sgt. Aechere Crump, the gunner, who was gushing blood herself at an alarming rate from a deep gash on her thigh. The driver, Pfc. Victor Alamo, was pinned up front with a broken back.
Crump announced the radio was smashed. Ezra used his belt to create a tourniquet for himself and then used his shirt to create another for Crump. But with no radio to call for help, he started losing hope as he was losing consciousness. But then he heard an incredible sound; his cell phone was ringing. It had come out of his pocket and was on the other side of the tank. Crump crawled to it and threw it to Ezra. He then unlocked it and texted for help.
His last memory was his sergeant major running up the hill carrying his leg on his shoulder. "I wanted to keep it, see if it could be reattached, but it was pulverized."
Ezra had also broken his ankle, pelvis in three places, and shoulder, was rushed to a local hospital. There he contracted an infection as well. He spent four months in intensive care and had dozens of surgeries, yet always maintained a positive outlook.
“I feel super lucky,” Maes says “My crew all does. So many things could have gone wrong. Besides my leg, we all walked away pretty much unscathed. As a matter of fact I might even say this was a gift. I used to struggle with emotional things before the accident. But now I look at every day like a gift! I'm really better off now than I was before. Life will take a 180, but it doesn't have to be a bad thing. Don't let it hinder you from moving forward."
The 21 year old goes even further telling Fox News "It's probably the best thing that's ever happened to me!. I'll probably say that for the rest of my life. Every day I wake up and look at it, and I remember how close I was to losing it all. And I'm still here," he said. "I managed to survive, and this is just the scar I walked away with."