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Retired U.S. Army Maj. Ed Pulido said he gets emotional when he looks back on his military career, a combat injury that nearly cost him his life and the amputation of a leg.

He spoke to a crowd of about 50 at the Exchange Club of Muskogee about the experiences that transformed his life.

On Aug. 17, 2004, Pulido and the unit he led as convoy commander were on their way to a new base in Iraq when he was hit with an IED (Improvised Explosive Device). He faced blood transfusions, 17 hours in surgery in Iraq, being awarded the Purple Heart and then sent to Germany before being transferred to Walter Reed Army Hospital and then to San Antonio’s Brooke Army Medical Center.

“When you face death like that you think of three things,” Pulido said. “You think about your God and your faith, your country, and I was certainly thinking about my family and a 2 1/2- year-old at home.”

He faced 38 surgeries repairing much of the left side of his body and the ultimate amputation of his leg. During recuperation he said he was feeling broken and had suicidal thoughts.

“During that time of crises my mom would come in and tell me good things,” Pulido said. “One of the things she would tell me, a guiding light for why I’m here today, she would say ‘you can sit there and grieve or you can get up and succeed.’” Read more.