The blast broke his jaw, punctured his ear drums and left him, according to the latest statistics, one of only three men - a soldier and two Marines - from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive an attack as a quadruple amputee...
Nicely has spent weeks at Walter Reed learning to stand, walk, climb stairs, zip a zipper and unscrew a bottle cap. He still often needs someone to light his cigarettes for him as he motors around the hospital campus with an artificial arm sticking out of the back pouch of his wheelchair.
He is thin, thoughtful and bespectacled and is slightly taller on his mechanical legs than before - 5-foot-9 vs. 5-foot-8.
And he can be so matter of fact about his wounds that it's easy to forget that his limbs are metal and plastic, not flesh and bone.
"I'm just a regular guy who joined the military," he said.Read the whole piece. As Rich Galen notes, you'll feed better about America if you do.
"We didn't know if he knew" the extent of his injuries, [his wife] Crystal Nicely recalled. "And we didn't know how he would take it, if he would go down which path - the bad path, or if he would take some kind of hope."
Late one night, he woke up and told her: "I don't know what's wrong."
"What do you mean, 'You don't know what's wrong?' " she asked, sensing he meant his injuries.
"Do you want to know what's wrong?" she asked. He said he did.
"Well, baby, you know you're missing your legs?" she asked.
"Yeah," he said. "I know."
"Did you know you're missing both hands?" she asked, crying.
"No," he said.
He was quiet for a minute, then asked, "Did anybody else get hurt?"
She said no.
"Good," he said.
"And that was the end of it," she remembered.
Regular guy, my foot.