Marathon bombs bring flashbacks of combat for Bragg runner
Posted April 17, 2013
Fort Bragg, N.C. — When two bombs exploded Monday near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, a runner from Fort Bragg said they reminded him of the roadside bombs he survived in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Sgt. First Class Ed Broadnax, 46, said he was still a couple of blocks away from finishing when the explosions occurred. He initially thought it was cars backfiring or other city noise, but it didn't take him long to realize what had happened.
"If you get into a blast, it takes your insides away – not just your comfort zone. It just rattles everything in your body," Broadnax said Wednesday. “Depending on the force of the blast, it can knock you into another world – basically give you a concussion on many different levels.”
He said he might have been in the blast zone if he hadn't started walking around the 24th mile of the race.
"I thought back to my deployments, what the enemy used to do," he said, recalling how a device would be exploded in the distance to lure U.S. troops to stop and get out of their vehicles.
"What they had waiting for us was IEDs on the sides of the road, and (they would) detonate those for maximum carnage," he said.
Two days later, Broadnax said, he still cannot comprehend bombing a marathon.
"Because of my previous deployments, I expect it over there," he said. "But not in Boston, not in a U.S. city, not in something you love doing – a marathon.”
Even the nature of the bombs – pressure cookers loaded with nails, ball bearings and other shrapnel – reminded Broadnax of the improvised explosive devices used in war zones.
Now, he says, he's unsure about continuing in his quest about running marathons in all 50 states.
"I’ve been battling with myself all day – is it worth it?" he said. "Should I run again? It’s not will I run again, but should I run again.
"I don’t know. right now," he said. "I’m just taking it all in, thanking God that I’m safe.”
Broadnax said he plans to run races in Kansas and Iowa this weekend. If he decides to do more after that, he would reach his 50th state this summer in Montana.
"I wanted to be one of those insane runners, (with people saying) 'You are insane. That’s utter insanity,'” he said.