"It was like Superman flew across the galaxy and punched me." - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

"It was like Superman flew across the galaxy and punched me in the face."

SPENCER (WAOW)-- Private First Class Ben Manthe, a Spencer native, carries in his pocket the bullet he was hit with while serving our country in Afghanistan. If you look at it closely, you can see the imprint of his teeth from where it was lodged in his jaw.

"When it hit me it was like Superman flew across the galaxy and punched me in the face. I don't have any other way to describe it," he said of being wounded in the line of duty.

The bullet hit him on the chin and traveled up his jaw until finally lodging in the left side of his face. He said he is alive today because the bullet ricocheted off of something a few feet before hitting his face. "It flipped around and went in backwards." he said.

Manthe was wounded in August. He had only been serving in Afghanistan for a few months when he was shot. 

"Everything went black and there was a second where I thought, 'I'm dead," he told Newsline 9. But he wasn't, and a fellow soldier helped carry him down a hillside and to a safe zone where he could be airlifted out by helicopter.

"It was the best sound I ever heard, especially for someone who hates flying," said Manthe.

Back home on base in Louisiana, his wife Kristal got a call she will never forget.

"I don't think I slept for two or three days," she said. It took that much time for her to find out not only her husband's condition, but what exactly had happened to him.

Manthe was transported to a hospital in Texas. Kristal and the couple's two children traveled there to meet him. She said when she arrived, the man she had married was hardly recognizable. "It was almost surreal. He was just, it wasn't him breathing. When you've been with someone for so long you are used to how they breathe and how they move."

Seven surgeries later, Manthe said he is doing well. The family credits the Wounded Warrior Project with helping them survive the recovery process. While Manthe was recuperating in the hospital, the program found the family housing and provided much needed clothing and supplies.

"Getting shot was the easy part. Coming back was the hard part and they never tell you how many people it takes to put you back together again until you actually have to go through it," said Ben Manthe.

That's why the family is planning a fundraiser to benefit the project. On December 9th, the family tells us they will have a welcome home celebration and benefit at 7:00 p.m. at Nutz Deep bar in Spencer. Click here for more information on the Wounded Warrior Project: http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/

Despite everything he's been through, Manthe said he would do it all over again. 

"You could have come up to me the day before I signed my contract last year and said, 'listen Ben, if you sign up with the Army, you are going to get shot and you are almost going to die, do you still want to do it?' I would have still signed."

Manthe said he plans to continue serving in the United States Army once his reconstructive surgeries are complete.

Online Reporter: Bonnie Shelton


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