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After Afghanistan: Learning to Walk Again

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Matt Krumwiede is a sergeant in the U.S. Army. Last year, while on patrol in southern Afghanistan, he stepped on an improvised explosive device. Fifteen pounds of explosive tore into his body, destroying both his legs and badly damaging his torso and left arm. Medics on the scene and a quick Medevac flight saved his life but started him on a long, painful journey toward recovery. More than a year later, he has undergone around 40 surgeries and is now learning to walk with prosthetic legs. His end goal is to once again be a soldier in the infantry. Reuters photographer Shamil Zhumatov, who was embedded with Sgt. Krumwiede's regiment last year, happened to be present on the day he stepped on the IED and took several photos of the immediate aftermath, including the painful impact on both Sgt. Krumwiede and his uninjured comrades who remained in the field. Earlier this year, Reuters photographer Jim Urquhart started meeting up with Sgt. Krumwiede, documenting his recovery in Texas -- his support system of therapists, family, and friends, and the daily trials of recovering from such a traumatic set of injuries. This entry is part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan. [25 photos]

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Sgt. Matt Krumwiede of the U.S. Army takes a phone call as his hand is massaged by his mother Pam Krumwiede, after being admitted for an infection at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, on November 4, 2013. On June 12, 2012, Krumwiede was on patrol in Afghanistan when he stepped on an IED, which tore away both his legs, damaged his left arm, and ripped open his abdominal cavity. The 22-year-old has since undergone around 40 surgeries and is learning to walk with prosthetic legs. He is keen to re-join the infantry as soon as his injuries allow. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)
Sgt. Matt Krumwiede of the U.S. Army takes a phone call as his hand is massaged by his mother Pam Krumwiede, after being admitted for an infection at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, on November 4, 2013. On June 12, 2012, Krumwiede was on patrol in Afghanistan when he stepped on an IED, which tore away both his legs, damaged his left arm, and ripped open his abdominal cavity. The 22-year-old has since undergone around 40 surgeries and is learning to walk with prosthetic legs. He is keen to re-join the infantry as soon as his injuries allow. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart)
The day before: U.S. Army soldier Sgt. Matt Krumwiede, from the 5-20 Infantry Regiment attached to 82nd Airborne Division, walks while on patrol in Zharay district of Kandahar province, southern Afghanistan, on June 11, 2012. The next day, Krumwiede was on patrol when he stepped on an IED. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov) #
A U.S. Army soldier secures an area as his colleague treats Sgt. Matt Krumwiede, wounded by an IED in southern Afghanistan, on June 12, 2012. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov) #
Soldiers secure the area, while a medic treats Sgt. Matt Krumwiede shortly after he stepped on the IED, on June 12, 2012. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov) #
Soldiers carry a badly wounded Sgt. Matt Krumwiede towards a Blackhawk Medevac helicopter in southern Afghanistan, on June 12, 2012. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov) #
Soldiers carry Sgt. Matt Krumwiede into a Blackhawk Medevac helicopter, on June 12, 2012. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov) #
A soldier reacts as he sits inside an armored vehicle after his comrade, Sgt. Matt Krumwiede, was wounded by an IED, on June 12, 2012. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov) #
A blood-covered M4 rifle, belonging to Sgt. Matt Krumwiede, lies on the ground in southern Afghanistan, on June 12, 2012. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov) #
Soldiers react after their comrade Sgt. Matt Krumwiede was wounded by an IED, on June 12, 2012. (Reuters/Shamil Zhumatov) #
Back in the States, a year later: Sgt. Matt Krumwiede (front row, white shirt) lines up for morning formation at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, on August 1, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Krumwiede makes his way to the entrance of the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, on August 1, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Krumwiede attaches his prosthetic leg before practicing walking with physical therapist Troy Hopkins at the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, on August 1, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Krumwiede practices walking with prosthetic legs, assisted by physical therapist Troy Hopkins, at the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center, on August 1, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Walking practice at the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center, on August 1, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Occupational therapist Kelley Wells works with Krumwiede, who is playing a drumming videogame during occupational therapy at the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center, on August 1, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Krumwiede plays a drumming videogame during occupational therapy at the Center for the Intrepid at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, on August 1, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
On November 2, 2013, Krumwiede pulls himself up into a truck at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio, Texas. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Sgt. Matt Krumwiede is handed a shotgun during a skeet shooting event at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio, on November 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Krumwiede waits to shoot during a skeet shooting event, on November 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Sgt. Matt Krumwiede sits in a jeep as he hunts with his friend Sgt. Jesse McCart at a hunting ranch outside San Antonio, on November 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Krumwiede hunts with his friend Sgt. Jesse McCart at a hunting ranch outside San Antonio, on November 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Krumwiede and his friend Sgt. Jesse McCart drive through a hunting ranch outside San Antonio, on November 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Sgt. Matt Krumwiede sits in pain while his friend Sgt. Jesse McCart and his mother Pam Krumwiede talk, after a day of hunting, on November 2, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Matt Krumwiede has a wound tended to by his mother Pam, after a day of hunting at a ranch outside San Antonio, Texas, on November 3, 2013. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #
Pam Krumwiede massages the damaged hand of her son, Matt, after he was admitted to treat an infection at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, on November 4, 2013. The 22-year-old has since undergone around 40 surgeries in the year since he stepped on an IED, and is learning to walk with prosthetic legs. He is keen to re-join the infantry as soon as his injuries allow. (Reuters/Jim Urquhart) #

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