Wounded But Not Broken

Matt Slaydon in EOD GearOn Oct. 24, 2007, during his third tour of duty in Iraq as a roadside-bomb specialist in the Air Force, then-Sgt. Matt Slaydon was investigating a suspicious sign outside Kirkuk, when a buried improvised explosive device detonated. The devastating blast caused a traumatic amputation of his arm above the elbow and severely damaged both eyes, rendering him totally blind.

Slaydon, the speaker at the Monday Morning Lecture at 10 a.m. Oct. 23, admits he loves adventure and the adrenaline rush of the danger of disarming explosives, as dramatized in the award-winning film, Hurt Locker.

"The movie accurately captured the tension of the EOD occupation," said Slaydon, referring to the explosive ordnance disposal unit. Slaydon disarmed more than 100 IEDs and destroyed more than 150,000 pounds of captured enemy ordnance. 

Matt Slaydon"I loved being part of the bomb squad ... loved it, loved it, loved it! Even when it sucked, it was great." he told an interviewer from the Air Force’s Torch Magazine.  His wife Annette added, “When it came to deploying for EOD, he was like that little kid in class who always raised his hand when the teacher needed a helper."  

Slaydon spent 15 months recovering from his injuries at Brooke Army Medical Center and The Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio, Texas.  He retired from the Air Force in August, 2009, ending a military career that began 20 years earlier when he enlisted in the Air Force.  

While the drama of being an IED specialist may be over, Slaydon is not one to sit on the sidelines. With the help of Camp Patriot, a nonprofit organization in northwestern Montana, he became the first totally blind person to successfully hunt a free-run elk . Camp Patriot helps wounded veterans through mountain climbing, fishing and hunting, using the team experience to build trust and further their rehabilitation.

You'll definitely want to hear Slaydon's amazing stories and how he went from the adrenaline rush of the EOD unit to hunting elk.

Tickets to all Monday Morning lectures are $4 at the door of the Renaissance Theater.

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