LIMA — Retired Master Sgt. Sean Clifton believes in a higher power.
He said there is no other explanation to why he is still here today.
Clifton is a survivor against high odds after being shot five times in a mission in Afghanistan in 2009. He was guest speaker at the University of Northwestern Ohio Event Center on Wednesday in an event hosted by the university and the Lima Police Department.
Clifton is a retired Green Beret serving 22 years in the U.S. Army, 15 of those in Special Forces. He had four tours of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
During his last deployment on May 31, 2009, he was critically wounded while conducting a raid on a Taliban compound.
Clifton kicked down a door of a building suspected to be housing Taliban fighters. He was met by more than 20 enemy fighters, getting shot five times. Two of the rounds were critical, one shattering his wrist and rendering his left arm useless, and another hitting just under his body armor. The bullet entered his left waistline and wounded five major organs, his sciatic nerve and caused major vascular damage.
“I remember thinking about my boys,” Clifton said. He is the father of three. “I was thinking about my wife. I was looking down at my wrist, expecting to pass out at any minute.”
Clifton grabbed his wrist as tight as he could to help control the bleeding and made his way out of the building to a special forces medic. He was bleeding out and medics at first could not locate the problem. Later, it was discovered that his common iliac vein and common iliac artery had both been severely damaged. “He endured a two-hour flight and was given a life-saving surgery. Clifton spent six months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, undergoing 20 surgical procedures. That was followed up by four years of additional surgery, therapy and recovery.
Clifton said he likes to tell his story because of the ideal of teamwork and also educating the public that freedom is not free.
“I believe there are times where you have to engage a threat so it doesn’t cross your borders,” Clifton said. “We want to do our jobs and we have faith in our leadership. There are evil men out there, and guys like us are prepared to meet that evil.”
Major Jim Baker of the Lima Police Department said the department wanted to host Clifton because of the message.
“The Constitution is what we stand for, and we also take an oath as police officers,” Baker said. “It is a good reminder that it can come at a great cost.
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter @LanceMihm.