Eric True Blood, Oglala Lakota, and his two daughters, Favel, left, and Averie, right. Photo courtesy True Blood family

Native Sun News Today: Damaged in body, but not in spirit

Story of Eric True Blood: Oglala Warrior

Part One of a series

Eric True Blood, Oglala Lakota from Sheridan, Wyoming, does not consider himself a hero. But many other people, such as this writer, do. However, he consents to being a “wounded warrior."

This is a short version of how a very strong Native warrior not only survived disaster but has gone on to many other successes, an inspiration.

In July 2011, while serving in the Army Infantry, True Blood stepped on an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in Afghanistan. Sargent True Blood was a platoon leader, responsible for a four-man squad, conducting foot patrols into Afghanistan villages to develop a better rapport with the natives of that country.

The old re-purposed Russian land mine did massive damage to his lower body and were it not for the expert medical corps, to whom he gives much credit, True Blood could have easily perished near a lonely village in a far off land. Instead, within a few hours he was rescued and helicoptered to Khandahar, Afghanistan, a military base and with a few hours to a VA Medical hospital in Germany. After three days he was stable enough to be moved to the San Antonio, Texas Military Medical Center along with about 20 others similarly wounded. He clearly remembers those first three weeks, a journey into horror.

Eric spent the next year at the Texas medical facility – in rehab learning to use a prosthesis which replaced his right leg from the knee down and having a titanium rod surgically interested into the left leg. He will also forever carry shrapnel from the wound.

During that time, the Army provided support for his mother, Cheryl Phelps and then wife, Sara to be with him. “They were both tremendous,” he says of them.

“When I first saw him there, I nearly collapsed,” Cheryl recalls, “but of all things, he encouraged me to be strong. The Army was wonderful, providing airfare, motel, food etc.”

For most soldiers, that would have ended a military career. Not for Eric. And that is when his real journey with heroism began. He was determined to continue soldiering, his life-long ambition. He comes from a long-line of Oglala warriors: descendent of Red Cloud; his grandfather Tom True Blood voluntarily served as a Marine in Korea and his father, Troy True Blood was a Marine in Vietnam, and now Eric who served a total of 12 years, all honorably discharged and highly decorated. And no doubt, many other extended family members have served as well, including his sister Rachael True Blood, a Navy Veteran who literally sailed the world seas.

Since high school, Eric had a military career in mind, enlisting in the Marines at 17. Then, his parents would not sign, encouraging him to enjoy a last carefree and youthful summer. However, in October 2002, turning 18, Eric could no longer be held back shipping out for basic training, enlisting for a four-year stint, which turned out to be twelve.

His father, Troy encouraged Eric: “Don’t be a grunt. Get yourself a skill set and trade that will be useful in civilian life,” he advised.


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