A walking stick in one hand and a turkey lying at his feet, Army Master Sgt. Michael Trost was all smiles on Saturday night.
The drizzling rain that continued to fall didn’t deter Trost, who was welcomed with congratulations and smiles on the Lewis Farm.
For Trost, it was a chance to take everything off his mind.
“For a few minutes, it made me forget about everything,” he said with sincerity in his eyes. “I think that’s the biggest deal for me. Not that I have a problem with (my injuries), but sometimes, it gets to be a grind. It gets to be slog.”
Trost, whom was serving with the 489th Civil Affairs Unit of Knoxville, was shot five times by a machine gun in Afghanistan while helping to build a school.
He said he had six Wound V.A.C.s, and he lost both his right thumb and index finger during the injuries.
“It’s a miracle that I can walk,” Trost said. “It’s a miracle that I’m alive.”
Trost said it was all because of his wife and physical therapist he’s able to continue.
During physical therapy, Trost decided to give up and throw in the towl,
‘Screw this. I don’t want to do this anymore,’ he said.
However, his therapist, Molly as he called her, had other ideas.
She came in, threw his tennis shoes at him, letting him know that physical therapy began at 9 a.m.
“I looked at her and said, ‘How am I supposed to tie my shoes with three fingers on one hand?’” Trost said. “She said, ‘Figure it out.’ Right then, I had an epiphany. You can lay around and cry over what you don’t have, or you can look at what you do have and plan on what you’re going to do.”
Saturday’s Willing Sportsman Hunt was something he was going to do.
According to Trost, his father used to carve duck decoys.
One day, he carved a turkey hen, as the father-son duo planned to go turkey hunting with it.
“All day long, nothing,” he said with a laugh. “I asked him, ‘Can we shoot the decoy?’”
On Saturday, it looked like he was going to have to use the same statement.
As light was quickly fading, Trost said they’d stepped from the blind to take a break.
“We’d just taken a break and said, ‘Eh, pack it in. It was fun to be out,’” he said. “All of sudden, here they come.”
Guide David McDonald called the bird in close enough for Trost to take the shot and bring home his trophy.
The Master Sgt. said his excitement was only overwhelmed by one thing.
“I don’t know who was more excited,” Trost said with a laugh. “I think David was more excited than I was at first. He was jumping up and down. We were like two kids on Christmas. It was amazing.”
McDonald concurred it was an accurate statement.
“After he shot, I could see the bird, and he couldn’t because of the smoke from the gun,” the guide said. “As soon as he shot, I said, ‘You got it!’ That’s worth it all right there. It’s the most excited I’ve been all year long.”
The bird, which had 1-and-a-quarter-ince spurs, was definitely a fine specimen.
However, for Trost, it’s not always about the kill.
“For me, since I’ve gotten skunked most of my life, it’s not about getting a bird,” the Master Sgt. said. “Although, it’s nice, it’s more about spending time with somebody and getting to know somebody – just the thing of ‘Hey, you remember when we went on that hunt, and we didn’t get anything, but we heard all that stuff.’ I think those stories are the best.”
However, a turkey doesn’t always hurt.
“For me, it made me feel like a kid again,” Trost said.
He and his father would often go hunting, only to be skunked on numerous occasions, he said.
Although they’d kill something on occasion, Trost said those hunts where nothing came by made Saturday’s hunt that much more special.
McDonald had a different, but similar view of the hunt.
In his fourth years of guiding for the Willing Sportsman Hunt, he said he’ll never miss another hunt.
Helping these Wounded Warriors, such as Trost, he said it gives him a different outlook on life.
“Honestly, I think you start looking at things from a different perspective. I’ve got both legs, I can walk good, and I’ve got both of my hands and all of my fingers…I was never in the military. To really respect the guys that are out here defending our country so I can do the things I’m able to today, because of those guys, it’s worth every minute of it. I truly, truly enjoy it.
“To take a chance to do something for these guys that have risked their life for me, I’ll never miss it again. I’ll never miss it again.”