Arizona native, Eric Cagle joined the United States Army in 1998. Under active duty he had three combat deployments: Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

On October 14, 2004, Staff Sergeant Cagle led his squad on a routine training mission. His humvee was hit with an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Conscious for only moments after the attack, Staff Sergeant Cagle made sure his men were uninjured before collapsing to the ground and being rushed to the hospital. Shrapnel damaged his right carotid artery and penetrated his sinus cavity, lodging into his brain and causing extensive bleeding. In order to stabilize him, the decision was made to ligate his carotid artery; damaging the right side of his brain and eventually leading to paralysis on his left side. Two emergency brain surgeries were performed in Baghdad, removing most of the right temporal lobe and part of the frontal lobe.

On October 17, 2004, he was transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in a semi-conscious state. An infection developed into meningitis and swelling of the brain caused dangerously high intracranial pressure. A third emergency brain surgery was performed to reduce the pressure. The operation was successful. Seven months later, a cranioplasty was performed to replace the missing portion of his skull. One year later, a CT scan showed the remaining right half of his brain had atrophied because of the ligated carotid artery.

The shrapnel that entered his brain severed the optic nerve causing blindness in his right eye. The left eye was also injured, decreasing his field of vision.

After months of hospitalization, the next two years were spent in intensive rehabilitation at the VA hospital in Minneapolis and in Palo Alto. As a result of his traumatic brain injury, doctors believed that he would never walk again. Due to Eric’s unwavering determination, he relearned how to talk, eat, sit, stand, and eventually walk. Extensive hours of physical and speech therapy enabled the lost pathways in his brain to essentially rewire, leading to his remarkable physical and cognitive improvements.

Eric currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada and is Darwin Holmes road manager.