Army veteran turns to fishing to cope with loss of leg and his son

Local News

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) Master Sgt. Brian Eisch had a long career with the Army that placed him all over the country.

He graduated Ranger school in 1999, and was then deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 with the 10th Mountain Division.

“if you remember Obama’s surge when he was sending the 30,000 troops, that was my deployment,” he said. “Our mission over there in Afghanistan was to teach, coach and mentor the Afghan police.”

During a clear mission, Brian and his team were caught in an ambush.

“I look and I see an Afghan policeman out in the field ,” he recalled.

The man was badly injured and nobody was near to help. Brian and his medic pulled their truck over so it blocked the gunfire, and they got to work.

“I remember squatting down getting ready to put on the tourniquet and I call it ‘snap, snap, burn chainsaw.’ You hear the snap of the rounds, I felt the burning sensation, and then like a chainsaw [felt like it] was literally ripping off my leg.

“The ripping sensation was two bullets hitting at the same time which filleted open my left calf. We had the truck positioned and the gunner shot underneath the truck,” he said.

Brian was hit a third time in his right leg and eventually had his left leg amputated in 2014, but they saved the man. His efforts would earn him the Purple Heart.

“I replay that story everyday,” he said. “Everyday it goes through my head, ‘did I do the right thing?’ And everyday I come back – he lived, yup we’re wounded but we’re alive, so I would make the same decision again.”

Brian was retired from the military in 2012.

Just a few years later, his family was living in New York when his son Joey went for a quick bike ride.

“I remember at the end of the driveway we waved ‘love you buddy,’ [and he said] ‘love you too dad.’ About 10 minutes down the road we got a call from my buddy and I thought he was joking.

“‘You need to get to upstate in Syracuse, your son was hit by a truck,”‘ Brian remembers hearing. “Joey was essentially brain dead, so 8 hours later we had to take him off life support.

“Easily trumps losing a leg. There’s no comparison to losing your kid. [I’m] still trying to change it in my head. Still waiting for prankster Joey to walk through the door and go ‘gotcha dad.'”

A previous divorce, the loss of a leg and then the loss of his son had Brian looking for hope.

“My happiness has been fishing,” he said. “I go bass fishing, I do tournament bass fishing. When I’m fishing, I’m looking around I’m like ‘wow.’ And I always see a bald eagle, [and I] say hi to Joey.”

For anyone who has been through similar heartbreaks like Brian’s, he says time heals everything.

“Two words that I like to talk about : perseverance, resilience,” he said. “If crap’s bad it’ll get better, you just have to weather the storm.”

Brian is now the youth director for the Luxemburg-Casco High School Fishing Team. They are one of only a handful in the entire state.

To nominate your Hometown Heroes email nate.stewart@wearegreenbay.com

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