Below are the video and transcript to Rep. Brian Mast’s speech at the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s 2016 Restoration Weekend. The event was held Nov. 10th-13th at the Breakers Resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
Introduction Speaker: What a wonderful event? There’s just such a victorious spirit here. When you look at the huge gains that we made not only in the Presidential, but in the House and in the Senate, I do not believe that any of those three would’ve been possible or even close to possible without everyone in this room, so thank you very much. Tonight I have the wonderful opportunity to introduce to you a true American hero. Brian Mast fresh off his fantastic victory for U.S. House in District 18. Brian served our country for 12 years as a bomb disposal expert for the elite Joint Special Forces Operation Command saving countless lives at great personal cost to himself, but not only did he serve our great country, he then went on after that to serve alongside the Israeli Defense Forces. Let me give you one of the best men I know. He’s going to tear up D.C. Proud to call you a friend.
Brian Mast: Thank you. I’m honored to have the opportunity to address you. I actually had prepared remarks that I was going to give, but some of the remarks that were already given inspired me to tell another story, and it’s one of the most important stories that I have inside of me. I always think it’s important to tell this when I get the opportunity. I think it’s even more so important to tell this now that I’m going to have the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. and serve as a Representative alongside some absolutely great men and women, Representative Gohmert, Representative Desantos. I’m honored to be joining the ranks of you all, but this story actually occurred while I was in Washington, D.C. It wasn’t too long ago. It was shortly after the new year, and as was mentioned I was a bomb technician. I did it in our highest level of special operations. I loved it.
The nature of the work that we did was very similar to the Bin Laden raid. We would only go out under the cover of darkness, as well as after very specific targets that we would’ve been following for days or weeks or months, and it was our job at that point to either kill or capture the individuals that we were out there going after. And so I go up to Washington, D.C., and I’m asked to address a few members of Congress and staffers, some White House staffers, and I’m asked to tell them a little bit about the story about the night that I was injured, and not to speak to them politically, but more so to give them a motivational speech, and so I did my best to do that.
I told these Representatives and their staffers about the night that I was injured, as I’ll tell you a little bit about right now. It was a very normal night for the assault force that I was a part of. It was September 19, 2010. It was working out of Kandahar, Afghanistan. The target that we were after was in the south of Kandahar, and as we went after this target we were out on two Chinook helicopters, and they dropped us off in a very tall marijuana field. There are a lot of marijuana fields there. There are a lot of opium fields in Afghanistan. They dropped us off in a pot field, and as they dropped us off there, it was actually on the wrong side of a river. We had to get onto the other side of this river, and as the lone bomb technician, it was essentially my job to lead and clear the way for our assault force to where we had to go to, and so as I was leading and clearing the way, I told my guys at one point we had to get across this river. There was only one place that we could get across it. If I could figure out there was only one place to get across that river, certainly any enemy that was in that area could figure out there was only one place we could get across it. I was almost certain that there were bombs buried in the ground there somewhere, so they needed to let me check things out.
So I did everything that I could to do that on the near side of the bank. I got down on my hands and knees and I started to look for batteries and wires and signs of disturbed earth. I got to the far side of the bank eventually. I started to do the same thing. I was looking for tripped wires. Anything to me that would seem out of place to indicate there might be an IED in the ground, and I didn’t find or see anything, and the mission has to go on. You can’t just take forever with these things. You have to get to the objective because these are time-sensitive missions, and as I stood up and I gave these two snipers that I was working with the signal that I was going to forge ahead, and as I did that I took maybe one, maybe two steps beyond the area that I had searched, and I found that device that I thought was there, but I didn’t find it in the way that I intended to.
I, in all likelihood stepped on the device. It detonated beneath my feet. I remember that very vividly. I can remember it tumbling me through the air, and I landed some 5 or 10 feet from where I had been standing previously. I didn’t know exactly what had happened. I was a little bit dazed and confused, and I was in the midst of this huge plume of dust and dirt, this cloud that had been blown up into the air from this explosive device, and as I’m laying there, I’m realizing the wind is knocked out of me and there’s a very good reason that I couldn’t stand up. And I’m trying to clear all this dirt and this dust out of my eyes, and I’m looking at my left arm and all of my fingers were broken. They were pointing in directions that fingers aren’t supposed to point in, and there’s a great deal of damage to the underside of my forearm. I still had my commo device in my ear. My men were talking about me. I could hear them radioing up my call sign. They’re saying EOD is hit. EOD is down. That was my call sign, so I knew that I was the one that was struck by this device, and right about then my men got to me.
They started to render aid to me, which was probably the most painful thing I can ever remember in my life. Them taking tourniquets and having to wrench them down as tight as they could on what was left on each one of my legs and what was left of my arm in order to keep me from hemorrhaging out on the battlefield that night, and after that they loaded me up onto a stretcher in advance of transporting me off the battlefield. They took me to a makeshift LZ, and I can remember very vividly this helicopter coming. Most of us are used to seeing the world go by vertically, as we walk around here. I am seeing the world go by as I’m laying on the flat of my back seeing the stars in the sky and having this helicopter come in, and the last thing that I remember from that night is my men loading me up onto that bird, and they rendered me one last salute, and they told me that I would be okay. And I told those Representatives and their staffers this story, and I went on to tell them even more of a story.
I told them about when I woke up in Walter Reed Army Medical Center about a week later, about the caliber of men and women that I woke up alongside, which is what allowed me to get to the place that I’m at today. I woke up next to men and women who were much more severely injured that myself. I can’t tell you how many friends that I have that are missing three limbs. Friends that I have that are missing four limbs, that are blind, that are burned, that are a combination of all of the above injuries, and the one thing that I didn’t witness from any one of these friends were people that gave up, were people that quit. That people that stopped trying. That was not what I witnessed.
What I witnessed was the absolute strongest, most resourceful, most inspired Americans that I’d ever met in my life every single day as I was recovering in that hospital, and I told these Representatives and their staffers this story, and afterwards it became very political. They all knew that I was a candidate for Congress, and I was put through the gamut of questions, and one of the questions that was posed to me was probably the most disturbing question I’ve ever received in my life. It came from a Democratic member of Congress, and he said to me, “Brian, you served in our highest level of special operations. One of your friends that you talked about, he was a Green Beret. He was missing three limbs. One of your friends that you talked about missing four limbs, he served with the Navy Seals. Another one of your friends, he’s amputated, he served with the Marines. You guys are stronger and tougher than the average American, and we can’t expect the way that you guys recovered, we can’t expect that out of every single American across this country,” and I thought that was probably the saddest thing that I’d ever heard somebody say that is supposed to be a leader of our country because that person either never learned who we are as Americans, who we are as a people or simply forgot what it is that we go out there for, the ways that we go out there, what we represent to the world. That is not who we are as a people.
We are a people that when we’re given challenges and we’re given difficulties and we’re given adversities to overcome in our lives that is exactly what we do. We look at these challenges, and we understand that they’re going to do one of three things for us. They’re going to destroy us or they’re going to define us or we’re going to use those challenges as the tools that make us the strongest that we’ve ever been in our lives. And that is who we are as a people, and it’s who we can never cease to be, if we’re going to continue to be great for the duration of time that we’re allowed to be on the face of this earth. And that is what that person never represented. We are a makeup of people and especially as service members that went out there across battlefields from Europe to Africa to the Middle East to South America. We’ve been targeted by snipers. We’ve been targeted by RPGs. We flowed beyond the lines of our enemies, even though we might be shot down or captured. We’ve walked across ground even though there might be land mines or improvised explosive devices. We faced these challenges and we’ve done it with courage, and we done it with resolve, and that’s who we are, and it’s what we have to cling to with every fiber of our being no matter what it is that we face. And that was what those service members that I woke up alongside in Walter Reed Army Medical Center – that is what they taught me through their example every single day, and that is my message to you here this evening.
If you’re an American, whether it’s because you were born here or you immigrated here, being an American comes with a responsibility. You wear that term “American,” you carry that with the responsibility that whatever challenge it is that you face you recognize that it matters about this much compared to whatever it is that you choose to do in response to the challenges that you face. If you want to be an American, you make that your responsibility and that is the candle that we have to hold every single person to.
I thank you for your time. God bless each one of you. God bless the United States of America. Thank you.