Veteran nearly killed serving his country reflects on how 9/11 changed him forever

Mike Morales is now serving his community as a police officer with Castle Hill PD

Castle Hills – Mike Morales was only 13 years old when 9/11 happened. It would be years later when he joined the military that he would come to understand the impact of that tragic day.

He comes from a deep rooted military family, both his parents served and his siblings are either in the military or married to someone who is. He was a U.S. Army Green Beret.

While deployed to Afghanistan in June 17, 2017 he was injured by an RPG that hit his vehicle, and landed just about a foot away from his head. He doesn’t remember much about what happened next, only what he’s heard, like that another injured soldier nearby with a shattered orbital ended up shooting and killing the person attacking his crew.

“I went first to the German hospital because it was the closest one. They didn’t want to move me because they thought I was going to die in the air from the altitude because the swelling in my brain was kind of out of control,” Morales said. “They were telling my parents, you know, we think he might be brain dead. We don’t know. It’s just kind of like hope for the best.”

Four weeks later when he was finally out of his medicated coma, he was in Washington D.C. The prognosis wasn’t good for him.

“I was on a walker and ‘they’re OK now, you’re going to need assistance. This is what it’s going to be,” the doctors told him.

His feelings and movement started in his toe and he says his brother told him something that really stuck with him, “just go and run,” and he did, slowly.

Years later he was training police officers in military tactical training, when he was moved by the stories they shared and thought it might be his next career, but still had some concerns about the injuries he was still recovering from.

“It was right before COVID-19 that I reached out to my brain surgeon. I was like, hey, do you think I could be a police officer?,” he recalls.

He made the decision to attend Alamo Area Regional Law Enforcement Academy, graduated and got his first job with Castle Hills Police. “It’s perfect. And I love where I work. I love my apartment. We’re small, but we are awesome,” he said. “There’s a lot of good that we do and helping others or we go and take care of little things like that, that it’s just as meaningful to me is, but then also holding those who are really destructive in society accountable.”

He never regrets joining the military and he says he built some of the best friendships there. It also taught him purpose and drive.

His healing continues.

About the Authors

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

Alex Trevino is an assignments editor at KSAT who previously worked as the senior video editor and photojournalist.

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