Having already survived several combat deployments in Iraq, Army Special Forces Sgt. 1st Class Kelly A. Stewart never expected to come face to face with death during a tour of “schoolhouse duty” at a NATO training center in Germany, but he did. Some of the details of the Green Beret’s brush with death appear in the excerpt below from my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August:
Panicking because they had eaten up some time, they began hooking up bottles and IVs and then another bad thing happened: Stewart had an allergic reaction to a drug the German doctors used and went into anaphylactic shock.
“(There’s) nothing like being double-handcuffed and (having) your feet shackled and strapped to a bed (while) going into anaphylaxis,” Stewart said. “I’ve seen a lot of people go through it, but being conscious and going through it is very difficult.
“It just started off as being real tight in the chest,” he continued. “The next thing you know, it felt like somebody put lighter fluid on me and caught me on fire.
“I couldn’t breathe at all, and everybody was kind of panicking around me, trying to give me medication to stop what was happening.”
Soon, the Germans said they didn’t have a doctor who could treat him, that he was probably having liver and kidney failure and was probably going to die. Their message to the American cops: “We need to get him out of here.”
“Of course, I’m understanding what the Germans are saying and what they’re telling the cops,” Stewart said. “They’re kind of underhanded, saying, ‘We can’t treat him here. We need to send him over to Landstuhl,’” the U.S. Army’s largest hospital in Europe.
“What they’re saying in German is, ‘We need to get him out of here, because he’s not going to survive,’ and they didn’t want that (outcome) in their hospital.”