Defense Base Act Compensation Blog

The Modern Day DBA Casualty

Patrick Elkins of Clinton awarded Defense of Freedom Medal after being seriously injured while driving a truck in Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on May 12, 2011

Permanent nerve damage ended Elkins’ career as a truck driver, the only job he ever wanted. Battles with an insurance company halted Elkins’ benefits and forced him to drain every penny of his savings.

Herald Review  May 12, 2011

CLINTON – Patrick Elkins doesn’t dwell on the roadside bomb that nearly took his life in Iraq almost four years ago.

He would rather concentrate on his accounting classes at Richland Community College and the good friends he’s made since he was invited to come to Clinton, a town he had no ties to before the semitruck he was driving took a direct hit near central Iraq on July 14, 2007.

But the Army and Kellogg Brown and Root, the contractor for which he worked, did not forget the sacrifice Elkins and other civilian workers have made in Iraq and Afghanistan. So on April 22, the 44-year-old Elkins traveled to Houston, Texas, to receive the Defense of Freedom Medal, the highest military honor a private citizen can receive, an equivalent to a Purple Heart.

There’s a story behind the medal.

“It was so intense. It was all over before I realized what had happened.  My truck was blown to bits by one mean roadside bomb,” said Elkins, an Ohio native who hauled supplies for the engineering and construction contractor for about two years.

Military medics pulled Elkins’ paralyzed body from the vehicle and rushed him by helicopter to Kuwait, where it was determined his injuries were too severe for treatment, and then to a hospital in Germany.

“Behind all this is the thrill that you don’t know if you’re to make it,” Elkins said. But he knew he would after he moved one of his toes.

About two weeks later, during a shower, a piece of the shrapnel that had struck his neck and upper spine popped out.

Permanent nerve damage ended Elkins’ career as a truck driver, the only job he ever wanted. Battles with an insurance company halted Elkins’ benefits and forced him to drain every penny of his savings.

Don Durbin, a fellow truck driver in Iraq, offered to let Elkins stay with him in Clinton when he returned to the United States.

“I’m so grateful for his help and the grand offer he made,” Elkins said. The two lived together until Durbin married and moved to Springfield.

With his benefits now restored, Elkins is able to pay for a small, second-floor apartment in Clinton. A cot from his service in the Army 20 years ago serves as his bed. Several large metal boxes from his days as a long-distance hauler do double duty as storage and living room furniture.

“I knew exactly what I was getting into. The people who hired me were clear about the hazards. � This is what happens in a war,” he said.

When Elkins finishes his degree at Richland, he plans to move to Kentucky, living on property once owned by his grandmother, but he never will forget the friends who embraced him in Clinton.

“I will always owe them a favor,” he said. “How do you repay people who helped you smile again?”

eblunny@herald-review.com

3 Responses to “Patrick Elkins of Clinton awarded Defense of Freedom Medal after being seriously injured while driving a truck in Iraq”

  1. David said

    I hope he got his back-pay, from when the Ins. Co. wasn’t paying him. I can’t fathom the fact that our government allows these things to happen.

  2. superman said

    Come on!!! what a dog and pony show… how many guys got injured over there and didn’t receive anything? I am happy for this guy but this is such a farce….

    • defensebaseactcomp said

      The company you work for is supposed to put in for you to get these.
      Believe KBR does it for the PR as they normally show little concern for their injured employees.
      Some years back they were asking injured employees to sign over their rights to benefits under the DBA in exchange for receiving this medal.

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