A violent helicopter crash in Afghanistan should have left Army Sgt. Zeke Crozier dead or certainly brain dead.
But he is a walking and talking medical miracle and he and wife Lacy credit the power of prayers.
"It's a miracle how fast I've come and that I've even come as far as I have," the Spring Hill man said. "There's not enough thank-yous for the prayers and thoughts."
The couple just returned home after living temporarily in the Fisher House in Minneapolis as Zeke Crozier underwent rehabilitation.
Zeke Crozier, 26, enlisted to serve his country as a flight engineer. He is based out of Gardner. On March 20, he kissed his wife and his two children goodbye and headed off to war. Zeke Crozier served just 41 days in Afghanistan when his Chinook helicopter violently crashed. He was in the back of the aircraft and his head was violently pitched forward and back.
Lacy Crozier was home when the heart-stopping telephone call came.
"His commander is saying, 'Zeke's having brain surgery. They're removing half his skull,'" she said.
Later, she would learn that her husband was in a coma and not responding. Doctors warned her that he might not survive and if he did the brain damage could be catastrophic.
"I'm bawling. I'm screaming. How do you tell your 3-year-old child that you don't know if Daddy is coming home?" she said.
The military flew Zeke Crozier from Afghanistan to Germany to Maryland and finally to Minnesota as part of his treatment and recovery. The Minnesota facility specializes in treating severely injured soldiers.
One of his doctors, Larisa Kusar, said the soldier was suffering from a closed head injury and was responding a little.
At one point this summer, his breathing tube was removed and a miracle occurred.
"They said, 'What's your name?' And he said, 'Zeke.' And they said, 'Hi Zeke!' And he said, 'Hello,'" Lacy Crozier recounted.
But the initial euphoria slowly evaporated when Zeke Crozier had little response in the coming days and sometimes his responses were weird, she said.
Eventually though, little by little, he began to come back. He began talking. He later, through rehab, learned to walk again. Now he is running.
A staff of therapists work constantly to boost Zeke Crozier's recovery.
"I'm so lucky to have gone from where I was to where I am now," he said.
His young son knows that his daddy can walk and is getting better but still has a ways to go. He was also thrilled when his dad's hospital bracelet was taken off and his father could come home.
"My mommy was sad and daddy woke up and mommy was happy," Chase said.
Zeke Crozier credits the power of prayer even from those praying that he has never even met.
"I don't even know them and I hear they've been supporting me and praying for me," he said. "I'm very proud."
He will recover from his injury. And he hopes to support and encourage other soldiers also battling life-threatening brain injuries from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was heartbroken when other members of his helicopter were killed this summer when their Chinook was shot down.
"We're all in this together," he said.
If you want to help the family by purchasing bracelets with the proceeds going toward the family's medical expenses, click here.
For more information on Zeke's recovery, click here.
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