Library to display the remarkable story of Private Gaylord’s recovery and hope

GAYLORD – Risk is part of the job description of almost everyone in the military. That risk became all too real for Jonathan Turnbull of Gaylord when he was seriously injured in a suicide bombing in the Middle East.

Given the odds of survival, Turnbull relied on his wife, Samantha, and religion to eventually return to Gaylord with a message of hope and inspiration detailed in his book “Zero Percent Chance: A Tribute. to the Heroes of Cross-functional Team Manbij: a Soldier’s Memory. “

Turnbull will discuss the book and its history at 6 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Otsego County Library, 700 S. Otsego Ave. at Gaylord.

After his family moved to Gaylord, Turnbull graduated from Gaylord High School in 2005. He cadeted at the United States Military Academy at West Point, graduated and was appointed second lieutenant in the US Army.

Eventually, he was deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq before being sent to Syria in 2018.

“My job was to legitimize the local government in Manbij, Syria,” said Turnbull.

He and his fellow soldiers focused on how to bring a sense of security and loosen the hold of the militant group ISIS on the region.

Turnbull’s mission was more humanitarian than military.

“There wasn’t a lot of electricity in the area. Everything was run from a generator,” he said.

The Turnbull team helped renovate a dam, restoring power to more than 150,000 people. Turnbull said he discovered that the girls were not allowed to continue their education in Manbij. They therefore set up a program to educate young women.

Turnbull and the team also rebuilt the local hospital. All of this has helped decrease ISIS’s influence in the region. The group sought revenge by detonating a suicide bomber outside a school in 2019.

The explosion killed three American soldiers and seriously injured two others, including Turnbull. About 40 civilians were also injured.

Turnbull spent the next two years recovering from his injuries. When Samantha met the senior trauma surgeon overseas, she found out that her husband had lost his right eye, had no skin or tissue on the right side of his face, had multiple skull fractures and many more. injuries. They told her that he would probably be paralyzed on one side and that he might not remember much, including her and their son.

Turnbull said he had 22 life-changing surgeries. When he woke up after an operation, he didn’t think he would be able to walk for months.

“They (the doctors) got me on my feet within days and I ran a 10 mile run three months after waking up,” he recalls.

Turnbull did much of his rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in the Washington area. Samantha moved to a base near the facility and became an integral part of Turnbull’s recovery.

He wanted to recognize the role played by local and military organizations in the process.

“My wife mentioned it was cold in the Washington area and the E-Free Church (in Gaylord) bought her a jacket. It was nice to see the community come together to help my wife and our son.” , said Turnbull. .

Turnbull credits Samantha as much as the medical staff with her recovery. He believes that God worked through her to help him. Once, Turnbull’s right index finger (his pulling finger) swelled and turned blue. The doctors were talking about amputating the finger.

“It’s kinda tough being in the military without your trigger finger,” Turnbull said. “Samantha suggested putting some heat on it.

At first, the doctors didn’t take her seriously, but she persisted, and eventually the doctors gave in and applied heat.

“The blood flow came back to the finger and they didn’t have to amputate it,” Turnbull said.

Turnbull said Samantha was a central figure in her healing phase and called her “my angel”.

Recently the Turnbulls returned to the area and bought a house near Gaylord. Last year they added another son to the family.

Turnbull would like readers to focus on two things after reading his book: hope and inspiration.

“No matter what life throws at us, you can either accept that you can’t do something or find a way to do it no matter what. There is always a way,” he said. .

You can purchase a copy of Turnbull’s book from Saturn Booksellers in Gaylord.

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