SOPHIA, N.C. — A man who barely made it out of Iraq alive is back home in North Carolina.
During the past year, civilian security contractor David Shoe experienced the worst kind of pain and the best kind of joy.
Shoe is macho, swaggering, tough -- the kind of man friends said they could trust with their life. That is why he went to Iraq as a civilian security contractor.
Shoe expected it to be "the adventure of a lifetime."
He experienced adventure as an Army Ranger as well as a horse trainer in his hometown of Sophia, in Randolph County. But that was nothing compared to what he endured in Iraq.
In April, Shoe was shot in the head in an ambush as he escorted some people through the streets of Baghdad in a truck.
"I remember thinking: 'My hands are working, my feet are working, the game is still on," Shoe said of being shot.
Shoe shot his way out and got everyone to safety.
In another incident, Shoe also stopped a guy from setting himself on fire.
"he had a couple of bottles of gas," Shoe said, "pouring one bottle over his head, another bottle in his hands."
Shoe said he knows he is lucky. Some security contractors from a different company, Blackwater, were murdered doing the same job.
"I hate it for them," he said. "They were good guys. I'd had dinner with them three or four nights before it happened."
But that didn't scare him out. In fact, he may even go back.
"One of the major reasons I went over was to continue to help put money into the business but mostly to give my family a better life," he said. "So, yeah, I'd go back."
Adding to the adventure, Shoe met an American female soldier with whom he hopes he will share his life.
"I've been shot in the head and met the woman of my dreams, all in Iraq," he said.
Shoe said he is spending time with his daughters and other family members now. His girlfriend is still in Iraq.
If he decides to go back, it will be for only three months instead of for a year.