In 2006, U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant Adele Loar was wounded in Iraq and lost two team members. For years Adele struggled with her injuries, a lack of confidence and guilt from surviving the incident. In 2014 she made a commitment to honor her fallen comrades and signed up for No Barriers Warriors: Mission Mount Whitney. The camaraderie she found in the mountains with No Barriers Warriors inspired Adele to live again.
2006 Article: OSI Agent Overcomes IED Injuries, Back on the Job
07/18/2006 – WASHINGTON (AFPN) — The morning of Feb. 20 was like any other for Air Force Office of Special Investigations Special Agent Adele Loar, who was assigned to the Strategic Counterintelligence Directorate in Baghdad, Iraq. Her mission, along with the joint team assembled there, was to gather information from Iraqi civilian sources to ascertain current threats to coalition forces.
Performing a mission for which she is trained and one that she loves, it did not matter when or where she worked or the dangers she might face. She especially reveled in the opportunity to be working on the front lines in Iraq.
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On this day Agent Loar assembled her team, loaded two up-armored sport utility vehicles and headed out to another forward operating base to speak with U.S. forces about possible threat information they received. The two vehicles were crossing an overpass when an improvised explosive device detonated and sent her vehicle through the concrete overpass barrier and tumbling to the road below. The SUV landed on its roof.
“I first thought I was in a tunnel. I couldn’t see anything,” she said. “I was blind and had loud ringing in my ears. I thought I was alone so I called out.”
Five members of the team were riding in the damaged SUV. An answer came from Sean Resare, a Kansas Army National Guard sergeant and team leader for security, letting her know someone else was there.
Agent Loar doesn’t remember much of the ordeal she faced in the next 24 hours, but at that moment she was coherent.
“The tail gunner, Wallace Logan, on the SUV had a few injuries but he set up security while we waited for the other SUV to get to us,” she said. “Vernon Perkins gave me something to put over my eyes and I had to hold it in place.
“When the other SUV arrived, they set up a security perimeter, but Sean made the decision not to wait for other troops to arrive so we got into the SUV and headed for the nearest (forward operating base).”
Two members riding with her, OSI Special Agent Daniel J. Kuhlmeier and Army Sgt. Jessie Davila, were killed. Agent Loar was unable to see and something was wrong with her right arm. When they arrived at the FOB she recalls someone yelling for medics.
“The last thing I remember of that morning is a lady telling me, ‘You’re OK.'” Agent Loar said. “Next thing I remember is waking up in the Landstuhl (Germany) hospital.”
During the 24 hours she can’t remember, she was treated for her trauma at the FOB, and sent to Balad Air Base, Iraq, for emergency surgery. While at Balad, she had surgery on her right eye to prep for additional surgery she received at Landstuhl. She lost her right eye to a piece of shrapnel that had also grazed her left eye. In addition she lost a 9-inch section of her upper right arm and suffered a broken jaw.
She was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital, Md., and in between hospital stays, spent time healing at the Fisher House. She recently completed her physical healing. She now has a prosthetic right eye and a 10-inch long, 1-inch wide scar on her right arm. Her left eye is fine. For Agent Loar, the disability is a fact of life, not a hindrance. She credits her humorous outlook on life as a key part of that rehab.
“I don’t cry, I laugh,” she said. “The thing that has helped me the most is people around me are not feeling sorry for me. My brother took care of me and he would always jump out from behind me on my blind side to scare me.
“I’ve never felt bad or afraid,” she said. “I’m motivated by the people around me. It speaks volumes for the camaraderie and care the special agents have for each other. In Landstuhl, I was constantly surrounded by agents and someone has always been assigned to help me.”
It has been more than four months since the incident and Agent Loar has been cleared to return to duty, although she still has some rehabilitation to complete.
“It’s going to take some time and I don’t know if I can get back to the level I was,” she said. Because of the blind eye and being right handed, “I have to learn to shoot long arm with my left arm,” she said.
To some she is an inspiration for the attitude she displays and her return to duty. But to her she is nothing of the sort; she just feels fortunate.
“I didn’t do anything inspirational. The people around me who cared for me are the people who are inspirational. They did all the work to get me back on my feet,” she said. “Since I was blinded, I don’t have any visuals of what happened, just the knowledge of it. I don’t have those memories so I feel I am lucky and maybe that is why I may be more upbeat.”
She faces challenges ahead, but she wants to be in counterintelligence again.
“I love rushes — love it. I want to deploy again,” she said. “To be able to go out and talk to people — it’s the best. One day I’ll do it again, if OSI lets me.”
By Master Sgt. Mitch Gettle
Air Force Print News
Published July 18, 2006