ORANGE – The U.S. Army veteran who made a name for himself as a motivational speaker and stand-up comedian after being the sole survivor of an improvised explosive device explosion in Iraq in 2007 must visit the Ralph C. Mahar Regional School this weekend to address post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide awareness.
The retired sergeant. Bobby Henline is scheduled to speak at 6 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday at the invitation of Keltic Irons, a firefighter training company owned by Orange firefighter James Hopkins. Tickets cost $ 20 and all proceeds will go to Forging Forward, Henline’s nonprofit dedicated to helping military veterans, law enforcement officers, firefighters, 911 dispatchers, first responders. and their families.
Hopkins said he found out about Henline on social media video sharing platform TikTok and contacted him to book it for Mahar. Hopkins said Franklin County had experienced a huge tragedy in the form of structural fires which greatly affected his colleagues and friends in the fire department, and he realized that there was little help for people with PTSD.
“People with PTSD aren’t bad people – they’re just normal people who’ve been given a bad hand,” he said. “(The weekend is) basically a PTSD awareness seminar.”
The hour-long shows are reserved for those 18 and over, as there will be graphic photos and adult comedy. Tickets will be sold at the door, but advance shopping is encouraged. Send an email to [email protected] or [email protected] to reserve your tickets. Henline said question-and-answer sessions will follow his speeches.
Henline, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, was with four other men in Zaganiyah, Iraq, north of Baghdad on April 7, 2007, when an IED explosion destroyed the humvee they were in, killing the comrades of SPC. Levi K. Hoover, Captain Jonathan Grassbaugh, Spc. Ebe F. Emolo and Pfc. Rodney L. McCandless. Henline, on his fourth tour of duty in Iraq, survived but suffered burns over 38% of his body, suffered fractures to his face and shoulders, and had his head burned to the scalp. He was in an induced coma for two weeks and was in the hospital for six months.
“I cried out to God every night to take me. I felt like a burden on my family, ”recalls Henline.
He eventually had his left hand amputated and has undergone 48 skin grafts to date.
“Here I was on the verge of death and wanted to give up life… but if you don’t give in to demons and kill yourself and kill me, and go on living, you don’t know what awaits you,” he said, “You have to stay strong. If I can do it, you can do it.”
Henline said he was unfamiliar with his fallen comrades, having only been in that unit a few weeks before the blast, but he has since grown closer to their families, who have helped him overcome the guilt of its survivor and to live fully in their memories.
“I have to live for them,” he said. “I have a very blessed life.”
Henline, 50, of Myrtle Beach, SC, said humor was his defense mechanism during his recovery and that he first turned to comedy 12 years ago to rebut the suggestion of an occupational therapist that the stand-up would benefit him.
“Since then, I’ve been trying to prove her wrong,” he said. “I appreciate it. It’s a difficult way to reach people.
Henline has performed professionally at Brad Garrett’s Comedy Club in Las Vegas, Laugh Factory in Chicago, and Hollywood Improv in Los Angeles. His routine is made up of self-deprecating black humor (“I had a great time in Iraq, but this last tour was a blast. It took me four tours to realize my lucky number is three. “) and he introduces himself as” The well-done comedian.
More information about Henline is available at welldonecomedian.com.
Contact Domenic Poli at: [email protected] or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.