When Army veteran Chris Levi’s HMMWV was hit by an IED in Iraq in 2007, nobody was sure he had survived- not even himself.
Before that fateful day, the Long Island resident had enlisted in 2003, heading to Afghanistan not long after.
When Levi was on his second tour in Iraq, however, his HMMWV was struck by an Explosively-Formed Projectile, his entire vehicle filled with smoke and a numb chaos set in.
Reverting to his training, he began to assess himself for damage.
“Part of the self-assessment, you begin at your head and then work your way down,” he told the Army Times in an interview. “So I raised my hands above my head..and I felt something on the inside of my thigh.”
To his horror, his left arm was torn completely open, with all muscles and bones visible as he moved it around.
“When I looked at my arm and I could see all my bones, I tried to move my hand and I could still move it..while I was watching all my bones working,” he said. “My first thought was, ‘I’m a Terminator.’”
Be it the comparison to the antagonistic machines of the titular series or simply adrenaline kicking in, he began to shout.
“I started yelling ‘I’m a terminator,’” he said during a recent interview with Military Times. “That’s how they had realized that I had not passed away in the attack.”
Little did he know, both of his legs were gone. His weapon had been bent around him by the blast and his original mission -which had been to transport a detainee- was over.
Quickly taken care of by medical personnel, he was rushed to Germany and then sent back to the United States, at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the DC area.
Knowing he would not be able to stay in the Army, Levi set himself a new goal- to walk with his unit after they returned to the US from their deployment, ten months down the road.
Over time, Levi became something of a local hero in the NYC/Long Island area, and has partaken in several high profile events. In July of this year, Levi was given a new “smart home,” designed to help him with his needs, made possible by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a charity borne from the horrors of 9/11.
“I don’t feel I deserve any of it but I do hope to earn it,” Levi told ABC7 in July after seeing the house. “It means a lot. I am man enough to cry in front of a crowd, so if it happens it just happens.”
Since 2008, Levi continued his education, participated in athletic events, and even became a self-employed financial advisor.
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