JACKSONVILLE, Fla. --A local veteran has something very special to add to the mantle in his home. A piece of body armor that saved his life during an IED attack in Iraq in 2007, day he calls his "Alive Day".
"It is the day you should have died, but you didn't," Wagner said.
When the truck he was in was blown up by an IED, he lost part of his right leg, but not his life. He jokes now that at the time he didn't even want to wear the vest because of the added weight of the equipment.
"It was right here (motioning to his side) and really heavy, but holey moley I am really glad I was wearing that now," Wagner said.
Almost 6 years later, Wagner is getting back the plate that saved his life.
For Command Sgt. Major Emmett Maunakea with the Program Executive Office Soldier, the U.S. Army organization that develops body armor, this is a proud moment. The countless hours of work designing the body armor is keeping soldiers like Wagner alive.
"Just the simple fact that we ended up with a piece of equipment that over matched an enemy's caballity and that is really the most important part," Maunakea said.
Now Wagner will take his experience and help other recovering veterans at Walter Reed Hospital.
With him will be the piece of armor that saved his life, now forged into a testament of his strength to survive.
For more about the Wounded Warrior Project and how to donate click here.