Sergeant First Class (SFC) Ryan Hendrickson is a determined, and courageous soldier -- a Green Beret clearing the way for his twelve-man team while conducting combat operations against the Taliban. As the "tip of the spear," his role is to insure the route taken by U.S. and Afghan troops are free of IEDs -- improvised explosive devices. Many soldiers do not survive their last step; those who do often lose at least one limb.
While rescuing an Afghan soldier outside a mud-hut compound in 2010 -- knowing that he was in "uncleared" territory -- Ryan stepped on an IED with his right foot. The device exploded, leaving his foot dangling at the end of his leg.
American soldiers losing a limb is an all-too-common occurrence. But what makes Ryan's story different is that after undergoing two dozen surgeries and a tortuous rehabilitation, he was medically retired but fought to return to active duty. Multiple skin grafts to his lower leg and right foot successfully reattached his lower leg, and he was aided in his recovery by wearing a new prosthetic device known as an IDEO (Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis). Once he passed a series of crucial physical tests, Ryan was able to rejoin the Green Berets within a year and physically perform his duties, redeploying to Afghanistan in March 2012.
In 2016, he volunteered to return to Afghanistan with Bravo Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group. During a firefight with the Taliban, he risked his life under heavy enemy fire to rescue three Afghan soldiers cut off from friendly forces and return the bodies of two dead Afghan soldiers under the ethos that "no one gets left behind." For his heroic efforts on the battlefield, SFC Ryan Hendrickson was awarded a Silver Star, the nation's third-highest award for valor.
An engaging and harrowing account, Tip of the Spear tells the amazing story of one Green Beret's indomitable spirit.
About the Author
Ryan Hendrickson is a Special Forces Engineer in the U.S. Army. Ryan transferred over to the Army in 2008 after completing enlistments in both the Navy and Air Force. Ryan has many military deployments including Iraq, Afghanistan, and several South and Central American countries. Ryan's decorations include the Silver Star, four Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart, and an Army Commendation Medal with Valor. He lives in Florida.
The war in Afghanistan, the longest in U.S. history is over. We have gone through the frantic evacuation of tens of thousands of Americans, Afghans, and other civilians from Kabul. We as a nation endured the death of 13 Marine Corp heroes along with the fact we have left hundreds of Americans still stranded in Afghanistan. All this leaves one question front and center with many servicemembers who served there; was it worth it?
Those who saw the war up close struggle to find answers and make sense of everything myself included. When it comes to the answer of whether it was worth it or not I have come to my own personal conclusion; yes it was worth it. People ask me how I can say this? We lost a lot of brothers and sisters in arms there, and many more lives changed by injury so how can I say it was worth it? For me it boils down to this; we planted the seeds of freedom in Afghanistan. The Afghan people got a taste of freedom because of our presence and this idea will continue to grow as good Afghans rise up to take their county back. Was it worth it for me? Hell yea it was worth it. Now we as a country must do the right thing and get our American Citizens out, and get ready to support those who rise up to fight for a free and peaceful future in Afghanistan.
Never did I think one year ago when my book, Tip of the Spear released would it have ever seen the light of day. Not a bad thing because I had no expectations at all, I just wanted to get my message out in hopes that it would reach someone who may be looking for answers. Now, a year later, I’m blown away by the results. From making the best sellers list on Amazon to reaching thousands of readers, I’m truly blessed. The people who have contacted me to let me know what my book did for them and to share their stories with me have made it completely worth it. One year ago I was unsure if I wanted to put my life on blast for all to read because I did not sugar coat anything, it was me, raw and uncut, but I know I made the right choice. I’m excited to see what another year brings and even more excited to enjoy the journey with everyone who wants to come along for the ride.
I have spent many Memorial Days in Afghanistan but as I close out this last one before US forces leave, I want to reflect back on the men and women who gave everything for our great country in defense of our freedoms and way of life. I believe Memorial Day is a time to celebrate the lives of our nation’s heroes forever keeping their memories alive. I think General Patton said it best when he said “It’s foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should Thank God such men lived.
In my career, I’ve had the honor and privilege to serve in the company of so many hero’s. I thank God every day I was given the opportunity to be a man amongst giants. So I hope you enjoy your time with your families, friends, and loved ones. Enjoy the freedoms we love as Americans and let us as a nation never forget those who answered the call and made the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy the freedoms we cherish so much.
Today is about them, let us never forget. God Bless America.
As we continue to withdraw forces out of Afghanistan I reflected on the nearly 4 years total in deployments I’ve spent in Afghanistan and how this place has changed my life for the better. I will always remember the sacrifices made by so many that I have served with and my mind is flooded with the good times I’ve had and the lifelong friendships I’ve made. The bonds I have formed in combat with my Afghan brothers are unbreakable, these memories I will forever cherish and I will always keep close to my heart those who laid down their lives for hope, freedom, and a better future for Afghanistan. To those who answered our nation’s call and did not make it home, may we live our lives to the best of our abilities as they would have wanted us to. De Oppresso Liber.
As I hit my midway point on my 8th deployment to Afghanistan it is easy to get into a routine and let special moments pass you by. You don’t have to be in Afghanistan to know what I’m talking about, this is about life and the ruts or routines we bury ourselves in. I was reminded today to take a break from time to time to capture the beauty that is all around us, even in the middle of the desert. God Bless America.
This being my 8th deployment to Afghanistan one thing that never changes is the friends you gain. I’ve worked a lot with our Afghan partners and I feel it is impossible to deploy here and not make friends. I love working with our Afghan counterparts and always looking for little opportunities to take a few Hollywood pictures when we can.
As I begin my last Afghanistan deployment I start to think back on all my previous deployments and just how much has changed. We will be one of the last here as we continue to close bases down and commence our troop withdraw. Its crazy to think how much blood, sweat, tears and emotion has been pored into this country by US service members and now its done. I am human like everyone else and I cant help but wounder if it all was worth it. During these trying times whether in Afghanistan or home with everything going on in the states, it is critical to keep your mind and body sound. I know the gym is my stress relief and thank God we have a good one at my FOB but each of us has to find our happy place, our safe place to recoup and recharge, ready ourselves to get back into the fight. Check on your family, friends, neighbors and anyone who could use a little help. We are all in this shit together so take care of one another and in the end we will be still be standing once the dust clears. God bless America.
Reporting to quarantine Dec 4th I felt like this was going to feel like years to get through till the 20th. Well, today waking up I can see the finish line in sight, only 3 more days here, then it’s back to Afghanistan. I think I’ve done more pushups and burpees than I’ve ever done in my life but I have stayed busy. Catching up on work, doing podcasts, and refocusing my mind have made this time in isolation a blessing in disguise. Always remember, regardless of the situation you may find yourself in, stay busy, occupy your mind and body, and you will feel rewarded in the end.
It’s that time again, another trip to Afghanistan but this deployment comes with a twist. On this, my 8 deployment to Afghanistan, I have to quarantine in Dubai for 16 days. I’m not one who can sit around or be locked up for very long so this will be a true test of my willpower. Now there are a few ways someone could approach this situation. One way would be the boredom route and what in the hell am I going to do for all these days. The second way would be to exercise your mind route. In the world today it is very easy to get caught up in the day-to-day hustle, going off muscle memory and just letting life go by or as one would say “going through the motions”. I’m going to try the second option, I’m going to use these 16 days to exercise my mind, read those books I want to, slow down and do a deep cleaning of my mind, and overall, use this time to recenter myself. There will be a lot of push-ups, air squats, and any other workout I can figure out, but for once in my life, I have no deadlines for 16 days. Time for a deep dive and some great mental maintenance.
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