Sgt. Micah Welintukonis, an 18-year Army veteran from Coventry who was critically injured in Afghanistan last summer, will be featured in a new National Geographic series “Inside Combat Rescue,” airing Monday at 10 p.m.
The 6-part series follows the pararescuers, an elite Air Force unit that rescues American or Allied forces wounded behind enemy lines. Using helmet cams and other technology, the show gives viewers an up-close look at the daring missions that these highly trained medics undertake.
Welintukonis, himself a medic, is featured in the premier episode. He was living with Afghan police forces when members of the Taliban entered their compound on July 9. Welintukonis was rushing to the aid of injured Americans on the second floor of the building when a suicide bomb exploded in a stairwell. He was hit by shrapnel in the arm and abdomen, causing internal injuries.
Sgt. Micah Welintukonis
The pararescuers took Welintukonis to an Army hospital in Kandahar; he was later flown to Walter Reed, where he spent 49 days as an inpatient and a few additional weeks as an outpatient. He came home to Connecticut in late October.
Welintukonis’ memory of his injury is spotty–he was in a coma for a couple of weeks.
But he had the chance to watch the episode featuring his dramatic rescue at National Geographic headquarters in Washington last week, an experience he described as “surreal.”(Welintukonis was in the nation’s Capital to attend President Obama’s state of the union address as a guest of US. Rep. Joe Courtney.)
He said he hopes Americans watch the show. “It gives a good perspective on what medics do,” he said. The show also serves to remind the American public that the war isn’t over. “There are still plenty of Americans putting their lives on the line,” he added.
Courtney, who met Welintukonis shortly after he arrived at Walter Reed, said he’s glad viewers will get to see his story.
Welintukonis, 36, joined the Army in 1994. He served three tours of combat duty — in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.
He is still recovering from the injuries he suffered in July. “My left arm only has a 20-degree range of motion,” he said, noting that he is due to undergo another surgery in March or April.
On Jan. 2, Welintukonis and his wife got some happy news: their son Hunter was born.
Sgt. Micah Welintukonis and son Hunter