CARSON CITY — Gunner Sgt. Dave Boire II wasn’t too worried as he walked through the deserted Afghanistan village.
He was surrounded by his fellow Marines and military officers had swept the path before them, looking for dangers, such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Somehow, one was missed.
On April 5, Boire stepped on an IED and was swallowed in an explosion.
“I just happened to be the unlucky guy who stepped on an IED,” the Carson City native told The Daily News from a hospital in San Diego, Calif. “I think I lost consciousness for about 10 seconds. The IED pretty much kicked me up, like a 360 through the air.”
Boire, 35, is no stranger to combat tours. He’s done three of them — two in Iraq in 2004 and 2005 and his current one in Afghanistan, which he began in March. He enlisted in the Marines in 1999 after graduating from Fellowship Baptist Academy in Carson City in 1995. He received a combat meritorious promotion to staff sergeant after one of his Iraq tours, along with the Bronze Star for valor and heroism and the Navy Achievement Medal with valor.
Boire’s grandfather served in the military during the Vietnam War. His two brothers were military too — Greg Boire served in the Marines from 1999 to 2003 and Josh Boire served in the Army from 2001 to 2005.
“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do,” Boire said. “I like the military. I like the Marine Corps. I think it’s the best service out there.”
Boire was the senior infantryman for about 170 Marines from Echo Company 2nd Battalion 5th Marines based out of Camp Pendleton in California.
“Our mission is to provide stability to the area of operations,” he said. “We’re patrolling the grounds, we’re the ones who kick down the doors.”
When Boire regained consciousness after the IED explosion on April 5, he didn’t look at his legs, but he knew it was bad. He could feel blood running down his right leg. He knew his left foot was “done.”
One of Boire’s corporals put a tourniquet on each of his legs. A sergeant called for medical evaluation and air med evacuation. Another sergeant cut away Boire’s gear, picked him up, threw him over his shoulder and carried him to the landing zone about 1,000 meters away — a little more than half a mile.
“It’s a good distance,” Boire said. “The guy who was carrying me still had all his gear on and now he’s carrying someone who’s about 185 pounds.”
Boire was flown to Camp Bastion, the main British military base in Afghanistan, where he underwent surgery. Doctors amputated his left foot and removed shrapnel from his right leg. After a second surgery, Boire was flown to Germany and then to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, Calif., where he remains today.
Boire’s wife and son, Shannon and 8-year-old Anthony, are with him, as is Boire’s father, Dave.
Boire has undergone seven surgeries in all. The stitches have been removed from his right leg and he can put weight on it. His left leg still has stitches where his foot was amputated. He’s hoping those stitches will be removed in 10 days. Boire then will have to wait at least two more weeks before his left leg has fully healed and he can try a prosthetic leg. He will then face up to five months of rehab.
“My plan is hopefully by July I’m walking normally with my prosthetic,” he said.
Boire is ready to retire after more than 14 years of service with the Marines. He would like to go to college and study to become a registered nurse. He plans to stay in California, where his family has resided since he married Shannon in 2003.
“I’m happy to be alive,” Boire said. “I still wish I was there with my Marines. I’m glad it was me that stepped the IED that day, not one of them. I would rather myself go through this than one of them. The guy who carried me all that way, he has a 5-year-old and his wife just gave birth to a brand new son, so I can’t imagine one of those guys having to go through this.”
Greg Boire of Belding says his brother is fiercely loyal to his family and the Marines.
“He’s truly dedicated to his Marines,” Greg Boire said. “He’s been through thick and thin and he’s all about them.”
Boire has been able to stay in contact with his men. He will be able to see some of them today, under unfortunate circumstances — some of his fellow Marines were wounded in gunfire this week.
Although President Barack Obama announced plans earlier this week to pull 23,000 troops out of Afghanistan by the end of summer, Boire said his group of Marines won’t be going anywhere for a while.
“The war is very much alive and kicking over in Afghanistan,” he said.