Explosion survivor; Huntsville Veteran recalls life changing moment in combat

Tiffany Thompson | November 6, 2020 | Link to Article

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - November 11 is Veteran’s Day, and it’s a day many of us will spend thinking about our local heroes.

On Friday, our crews caught up with a local veteran who almost lost his life in an explosion. Now, he said he’s living life to the fullest with his family.

Veteran Jae Barclay said he remembers that day in August of 2006 like it was yesterday.

“It blew me out of the vehicle 30 feet," Barclay said. "I was on fire and I put myself out. I ran into the next vehicle getting shot at and couldn’t get in, so I ran to the next vehicle and the medic was there.”

Barclay was stationed in Afghanistan when his Humvee went over a remote controlled IED. He still remembers what was going through his head after getting to the medic.

“Stay awake, don’t die," he said. "Monitor the radio and do stuff to help my guys out.”

Two and a half hours later the fire fight ended. Barclay was medevacked out and put into a medically induced coma.

Barclay and the driver of the Humvee were the only ones in the vehicle who survived. Four days later Barclay woke up from his coma, and ten days after the explosion, Barclay’s wife delivered their first child.

“They brought her into the ICU and wheeled me out and I was able to see her," Barclay said.

Barclay suffered from severe, 3rd degree burns and stayed in a rehabilitation facility for two years as he recovered.

Fast forward to 2015, Barclay met Meredith Peterson with Semper Fi and America’s Fund, a charity that helps veterans and service members injured in combat.

“We were able to put some cooling systems in, and outside of his home in a renovation of his backyard to allow him to get outside and enjoy nature again without getting so hot," Peterson said. "It’s a concern for people who have extensive burns.”

Barclay said the people in the organization become like family, something other veterans need.

“I had a family while I was wounded. I knew if they could do anything they would. A lot of guys don’t have that.”

From now until December 31st the Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation will match every dollar donated to the charity up to $10 million.

For more on the group, you can read about them here.