Monday, July 20, 2009

Colton's Story

Colton Read is an amazing young man. His life has not always been easy, but somehow Colton has always made lemonade when life gave him lemons. Now he faces the most difficult challenge he has ever met.

On July 9th, 2009 airman Colton went into David Grant Medical Center at Travis Air Force Base in Sacramento, CA. He was to receive a routine gall bladder removal procedure. A resident was allowed to perform the surgery and nicked Colton's aortic valve. The surgical team waited two hours too long to send Colton to a vascular specialist at UC Davis Medical Center, only a 40 minute drive away. Because of this, both of Colton's legs have been amputated.

News Story #1

The Air Force has now stated Colton will likely be discharged because of his condition. Colton's spirits are crushed. To top it off the government has a doctrine in place that prevents military personnel from suing even in this case of admitted human error.

News Story #2

This young man has been left without his legs, and potentially without his dream career, and likely without any justice for this tragedy. He needs your help! Please take a moment and leave a comment here. His family can share it with him and help lift his spirits. His condition is still not stable and an out pouring of positive energy can make a difference.


Barbara Heidenreich said...

I hope you know I think the world of you and know you will take this situation and turn it into something powerful. You are an inspiration to others and I am so proud to know you. You are in my thoughts everyday. Keep fighting for your dreams.

Kevin Lenaghan said...

Some people seem to be given more than others to deal with, Colton. This sure is a tough one and I am sorry this is on your plate. Know that I and a lot of others care deeply about this. I wish you the very best and from what I have seen of your strength, I know you will overcome even this. Keep fighting for your dreams!

Hollywood Dave said...

Thank you for your service to me, my family, and this country. Don't forget... as one door closes another one opens. Good luck in your future endeavors.

Kathy Heaton said...

If you worked in the private sector, you'd now have a job for life; but you wanted to serve your country. How can the USAF do any less for one of its own? People will fight for you, Colton, but you must fight for yourself first. Like it or not, you've become our poster boy... C'mon, show us how it's done!
Houston TX

* Avani * said...

Colton-- sometimes we are presented with really hard situations that only make us stronger and wiser. Remember that you have served your country well and that good things will come to you. Take care of yourself.


jacdobe said...

I was made aware of your plight through Barbara Heidenreich's email group. I know you don't know me, nor I you, but I just wanted to take a moment to say that it is to people like you that I owe my freedom, my life, my liberty. I wish you the best in your struggles and will keep you in my prayers. Do not give up hope. You have everything to live for!

Birdie said...

Colton, you don’t know me, and until now I had never heard of you. The most important thing is to stay positive. Talk to those you love, never have one thought of pity. Many years ago my dad lost his legs, he was overcome with self pity and now he sits in his chair watching tv. You have a long life ahead, your dreams may have been changed or put on hold, or made harder to achieve… fight for them! God Bless.

Anonymous said...


Prayers and wishes for your best are winging their way to you.
I believe with what happened, the USA Airforce owes you retraining and a career for your working years. They need accountants, computer database maintenance, and many other jobs you can learn to do well.

If you have lost a fiance or girlfriend or friends in this hard situation, it will be good to make some new friends who will pray with you and for you.

Take care and God bless you. Emerald.

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you for your service and to let you know my prayers are with you. Courage is something that you have and I know that your courage will carry you through these tough times. Stay proud airman.

Linda McKelvie said...

Colton, we don't know each other; I just heard of your situation today. I want you to know I am praying for you. You are in a tough place, but I hear you are a fighter. Stay strong, no matter what the doctors say. You can over come this! I also pray that the Air Fore somehow makes this up to you, BIG TIME!


Anonymous said...


Sometimes we don't know why things happen. Thank you for your work for your country. Your courage has touched many of us that you don't know but we are praying for you and your family. We will continue to send our prayers to you and know we are there with you in spirit to help you through this. I hope it helps in some small way. There are really no words to express our concern.



Lori said...

Thank you for serving this country with pride and honor. You are a hero to many. Your strength and courage with get you through the worst of this, and then your heart will lead you to the future.

Sundance said...

Hi Colton,
I can only imagine the pain you are going through right now. First, I want to thank you for protecting my freedom; and in that service to protect, you lost both your legs to a medical mistake - making an ultimate sacrifice. I am so sorry. I am sending you lots of love and light to help you heal both physically and mentally. Keep your head up - you are meant to do amaazing things in this lifetime.

Minna said...

I´m very shocked what has happened to you but I know you will get over this! You have a great family and a beatiful wife. They will lift your spirit up when you feel sad. I promise, you are a tough person and you will win this fight!


sabauda said...


I don't know you but I'm so inspired by your strength and heroism.....know that here in our home in Torino, Italy, our family is praying for you and sending you loving thoughts. ALL the best to you and yours....hang in there....take care, and keep on fighting. We wish you the BEST!!!!

Laurie and Saverio

sabauda said...


thanks for this...

Deb said...

Life has presented a new challenge for you and I know that a lot of people telling you that it’s going to be alright may not be sinking in at the moment when you’re facing so much.
You will find the inner strength to overcome this.
Try to stay positive and get better and out of there to the next stage.

You have a lot of family, friends as well as people that have never heard of you before... grateful, inspired and praying for you. One day you’ll be telling your own story, still inspiring others by what you’ve endured and conquered.

Anonymous said...

Dear Colton,

What can I say... I am just full of silence after reading your story. I wish you all the strenght that you need.

There must be a silver lining somewhere althoug hard to see right now. Be strong! It's your life! Don't let that take away by others!


Anonymous said...


My thoughts and prayers are with you each and every day. I know things are difficult at this moment, but stay strong. You do have a purpose in life, and you will find it. Concentrate on your recovery today. Many are praying for you.


Linda said...

Injustice happens all over the world. I am very sorry that you are experiencing these injustices, especially since you were trying to serve our country to create justice. Thank you doesn't cover all you gave.
Wishing you a speedy recovery, and hoping new opportunities that are wonderful present themselves soon.

Anonymous said...

Although we do not know each other, we actually sort of work together. I work in the 13th as a U2 Mission Planner. Everyone in our squadron is very concerned and hopeful for you, and as you can imagine, we have been given updates on your situation through our leadership.
I just wanted you to know that even though you probably feel very isolated, there are many, many people at Beale who care about you and your family and are thinking about and praying for you daily.
I hope the AF will figure out what is right to do in this situation, and will realize that even though you do not have your legs anymore, you are still more than capable of doing a great job as an imagery analyst. If they let you go, they will be losing an invaluable asset to the intelligence community.
I wish you and your family the best of luck for a speedy recovery.

Megan K.

Anonymous said...

We have never met,however you have my my heart felt prayers tonight. Like so many have said already, sometime it seems that God tends to give us more than we can handle, but he also knows who to aim those winged arrows at, and it is always those that he knows will be able to handle it. You have a long road ahead of you, but you have a whole world of people out hear praying for you!
Be Strong,You can do this, and when you think you can't go any further, reach out, and all of us will pull you!!!
Mel B

Anonymous said...

I pray that that God releases the burden of anger from you so that you may know the peace that accompanies forgiveness, peace that surpasses all understanding and is possible only through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is understandable that anger might be your primary emotion for a while--I pray that you are released quickly from this bondage. I pray that you remember to trust in God--for humans may make mistakes, but He will never fail you. I pray--and I hope you do too--for the surgeon in this case, who likely feels as miserable as anyone about the whole situation. Accidents happen even sometimes to the most capable individuals. I pray that you recover swiftly and are able to return to your duties as a proud Airman. I pray that God showers you with tenderness and mercy, and that you are able to pass these blessings on to those around you in His name. Amen.

Janet in SoCal said...

Sending my thoughts and prayers for your full recovery. Stay strong and stay determined that each day will be a little better than the one before. One day this nightmare will be behind you and your future will once again be filled with joy. Thank you for serving our country with pride and honor.

Anonymous said...

Keep the faith...your perserverance and strength will certainly make a difference in making the kind of changes necessary to protect other armed services members and their loved ones.

ET Talon (x-box COD 4&5) said...

Colton I am so sorry this happend to you bro. All of us from ILLCON are sorry this had to happen this really F-ed up way. From one service member to another, I know it feels like the end of the worl right now but please be in high spirits(the highest you can be) because when one door shuts another always opens. We love ya bro.

Richard said...

I was saddened to read of your troubles in the Star Telegram today. I know you are a strong young man and will overcome this tragedy. I am proud that you chose to serve your country in the military. My prayers are with you and your family.

Dr. Richard A. Chiarello
Arlington, Tx.

Anonymous said...

I pray that that God releases the burden of anger from you so that you may know the peace that accompanies forgiveness, peace that surpasses all understanding and is possible only through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is understandable that anger might be your primary emotion for a while--I pray that you are released quickly from this bondage. I pray that you remember to trust in God--for humans may make mistakes, but He will never fail you. I pray--and I hope you do too--for the surgeon in this case, who likely feels as miserable as anyone about the whole situation. Accidents happen even sometimes to the most capable individuals. I pray that Colton recovers swiftly and is able to return to his duties as a proud Airman. I pray that God showers you with tenderness and mercy, and that you are able to pass these blessings on to those around you in His name. Amen.

Liz said...

Dear Colton Read and family,

I learned of your story on and I am deeply distressed by the tragic results of what should have been a fairly routine surgery.

Don't back down, utilize your home-state US Senators and Representatives to ensure that no rock is left unturned and that Colton receives every bit of benefit and advantage available to him and then some. I'd also suggest that Shelley Read-Miller write a letter to our first lady Michelle Obama as one mother to another in the hope that Mrs. Obama might be able open a pathway or two for Colton as he recovers.

It seems that the universe has higher standards for you Colton and is asking much more from you than most men or women could bear. You've got important work ahead - embrace your new life with everything you've got. I will keep you in my prayers. Surely there is a circle of us around the country praying for you.
Thank you so much for your proud and generous service to our nation.

Clifton Heights, PA

Shirley said...

I met you some time back, don't really know you, but I want you to know that you are continuously in my thoughts and prayers. My whole extended family is praying for you and keeping you close in their thoughts.

Hrd.... Family in MN said...

Dear Colton,
I just learned of your circumstances and how they came about. I am sorry that this happened to you. Thank you for serving our country in the USAF. We will be praying for you and your family that first of all you come through this fight VICTORIOUSLY HEALED, and then that your heart be mended by this ordeal that you are facing. The Lord Jesus Christ said in the Bible that He never leaves us nor forsakes us. So even in this difficult time He is there for you and with you. He said that in this life we would have troubles, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the enemy. I would like to share Ps 23 with you to think on and let His words comfort you.
I am praying that the Lord comfort you and strengthen you and your family during this time of healing and that you come out stronger than when you went in.
Concerning your financial situation, I pray that the Lord turn all this around for the good, In Jesus Name. You are loved by many. May you return to good health speedily. BLESSINGS TO YOU!

p38thadl said...

I bet you'll find yourself moving in political circles eventually. Having good support from the people around you and a civic spirit, you're facing a world largely unenlightened regarding disability rights. I do not have a disability, but I married a woman who does and who leads an Independent Living Center. So I can say with some assurance, there is life after disability. She's off flying back and forth to Washington, D.C. while I'm stuck at home with the twins...

My point? Do like me: screw the career, and put yourself out to stud. Aim Low. ;-)

Thad Launderville
(Bird person, Vermont)

Anonymous said...

Dearest Colton and Family,
I am very saddened to hear of your terrible circumstance, but will lift you up in prayer during this difficult time. It was only last year that I had a visit from my angel while in the hospital following a medical crisis. I will continue saying prayers for your physical, emotional and spiritual healing. You are quite a wonderful young man and would like to express a heartfelt thank you for the service to your country and fellow man/woman/child. Words seem hard to come by during a time like this, but please know these words come for the heart and I will be keeping you and your family in prayer for now and always. I've asked the Lord to send you an angel to watch over for now.


Anonymous said...


Stay strong and pursue Justice!! The Military has done an injustice to you and your family. You are not the only one. An Airman just died at WHMC in San Antonio due to malpractice. It didn't even make the news....because they lied about what really happened. Another government coverup. During a time of War, you would think we'd have the best doctors caring for our service members. Pres Obama promised change, where is it. You are in my prayers. Jessica, it is youre job to seek Justice for what has happened. Take care of one of our Nation's HEROES! Get him strong!!!

Anonymous said...

My prayer's are with you on that same morming July 9, 09 I was on a operating table in TX having my gallbladder & appendix removable.
We never know what can happen once we are under, my heart and prayer's are with yiu and your family.


Daniel, Ohio said...

Even through sorrow and tears, you must remember. Life is precious. It's worth living. You have friends and family around you. As we turn on the tv we see the horrors of the homeless especially with children.

We see people being evicted everyday from their homes and set out on the street.

You have now faced a very unfortunate situation. I think you know, your parents, friends and even strangers are saying prayers that you recover quickly.

Life is valuable my friend. At times it seems very unfair. You indeed have courage. You will not only recover but send out a loud signal to anyone else suffering from any problem. You will go on.

Others will see your accomplishments. Your health will improve. The only thing you are going to die of is old age. You'll have plenty to be sad and happy about over the next 60 years.

No words can ever really soothe someone when they are in any kind of pain. Happiness is shared by all, pain is shared alone.

When someone has a child, they burst out and want to tell the world "I have a son !".

When someone they love passes away, only time can heal.

You will heal. You are 20. You are strong and you know it. Think of what life has in store for you !

Think of what you can do for others. At this time, there isn't much anyone can say. But, know this. People are thinking of you and having good thoughts and wishes. I hope you have a good day. I hope you get well soon.

As you look up, and see your parents, family and friends come in. Realize that some don't even have that much. They love you and that moves mountains.

Dwayne Campbell said...

Dear Colton and family,
My wife had this same issue during "routine" laparoscopic surgery at an AF facility in Nov08. Instead of lacerating the aorta, they lacerated her inferior vena cava (IVC), the largest vein in the body which drains blood from the legs, liver, and bowels, into the heart. Post-op she had lost a lot of blood requiring transfusions and her gut was in "shock". She lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks. Once she was able to get out of bed, she had a pulmonary embolism from the repaired IVC site that was incredibly painful and destroyed some of her lung. She is back to duty but not sure that will last long because she's not really capable of performing her full active duties. Colton, I wish you the best. I hope I can come visit you when you arrive in San Antonio for care. Keep your head up and stay strong! My wife has a lot of pain and recovery to go. The AF is considering separating her now that she's unfit for duty. We can't sue for the loss of her health and income although she supports this household. She will be physically unable to find comparable employment in her condition and we will have to sell our house. The doctor who was negligent and perforated her IVC is allowed to continue in her residency learning and even teaching other residents. We are waiting to hear if the AF will at least medically retire my wife so she can get medical care and a small income from disability. Hang in there Colton!

Anonymous said...

I just read your story today in the news, and I'm so sorry to hear what has happened, and about your loss. It's another reminder that we're all only a breath away from heaven. I know your family and friends are glad you're still here with them. Fight for your recovery, for your health, for the road ahead. Everything happens for a reason. What will yours be? I'm praying for you.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your service to our country. I hope that the Air Force will make sure you are taken care of.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

please read and please prayers to you all. seek legal counsel as soon as you can.

Andrew Norden said...

I pray that that God releases the burden of anger from you so that you may know the peace that accompanies forgiveness, peace that surpasses all understanding and is possible only through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is understandable that anger might be your primary emotion for a while--I pray that you are released quickly from this bondage. I pray that you remember to trust in God--for humans may make mistakes, but He will never fail you. I pray--and I hope you do too--for the surgeon in this case, who likely feels as miserable as anyone about the whole situation. Accidents happen even sometimes to the most capable individuals. I pray that Colton recovers swiftly and is able to return to his duties as a proud Airman. I pray that God showers you with tenderness and mercy, and that you are able to pass these blessings on to those around you in His name. Amen.

Nancy said...

Dear Colton,
I have never met you and learned of your situation on the news today. I just wanted to tell you that you are a very brave and special young man. Thank you for your service to this country. I pray you enough, and what I mean by that is I pray you have enough of everything you need to live your life to the fullest. I pray you enough today, tomorrow and all the tomorrows for the rest of your life. Just remember, God never puts more on us than we can handle. When you are having a rough time, His angles will carry you.
Love to you and your family.

Multitasker said...

Colton, I hope and pray that you will be able to get through this horrible ordeal with the zest for life it sounds like you have had in the past. I am a veteran too and know that if you were retired, you would be entitled to a significant amount of monthly compensation (more than likely, $6000-$8000 per month). Please feel free to email me and I can certainly let you know what I know and put you in touch with some other veterans who are receiving significant compensation for having lost two limbs.

Please keep your head up and remember that you are still Colton!
Take care!

kemmererstar said...

Hi Colton,
I am praying that things are going good for you. I can imagine that you are a fighter or you would have not joined the service, so keep on fighting my friend. I am so proud to call you a friend now. You are a very special person. I pray if you want to stay in the service they will find a place for you & you can keep your dream..Don't ever give up, trust God & he will show you the special plans he has for you..Big Grandma Hug for you..SG

Anonymous said...

The Read Family,
I was standing in the shopette tonight on Ramstein AB, Germany and I read your story on the front page of the AF Times. I re read it 2-3 times. I just could not believe it. As a fellow AF family we hold you close to our hearts. We will keep you in our prayers. Colton will recover from this and be a stronger man for it.
The Orton Family

Mandy said...

Colton and Family,

The situation is sad:( But I have high hopes for you. I pray that God will give you the strength to move on. I’m a military wife and to see this makes me truly sad that the military would even think about a medical discharge. There are other jobs in the military that you can do at a desk and still be fulfilling your dream of being in the Air Force. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Whatever you do don't lose your dream of being in the military...


Anonymous said...


I was vacationing in Texas when I heard your name on the local news. I could not believe what I was hearing. I said a long prayer that night for you, Jessica, and your family. I also reflected on our time spent together while you volunteered in our community as a mentor. It was my pleasure to train you and support you while you made a difference in your mentees life. I learned so much about being selfless and inspirational from our conversations, and a true fondness for you and the airmen who volunteered in our program. You once told me that you asked so many questions, because you wanted to “make a difference while mentoring”, you were worried that you would “do it wrong”. There was no way that you could have. The simple guidance and kind sprit you showed all of us, there was no way you could have done any part of mentoring wrong. To be so young and so giving to an adopted community touched me to the soul. I am forever changed by just knowing you. I am positive that you will take this experience and turn it into a gift. I know that you have a tough road ahead of you, but you have wonderful support and a great attitude you will be the successes at the end of this story. I will continue to keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.

Colleen Dugan

WWIIK said...

" By no means count Colton out, if anyone can do this, it's him."
Jessica, I am going to take the liberty to talk directly to you. Yes, Colton can do it, but you will soon be the one with the greatest load to carry. With your permission I will preface where I am coming from.
These last two years have taken my middle son through many operations for cancer, which invaded his spinal chord. causing him to start losing the use of his legs. With in 24 hours his crisis came upon him. He went from suddenly not able to lift his legs up a step to losing his ability to balance himself.
To cut to the chase, The love of his life became his 'drill sargeant'. During the many operations her vigilance and determination held the excellent doctors and staff to account. She became the eyes and ears that made his ordeal bearable. When he finally went to Rehab, she made it her job to learn everything that he had to accomplish to walk again.
It has taken this two years to finally hear him say, I believe that "I am going to live." He has learned to walk again, well, he has balance difficulties that are coming along. He says he is, and he acts, happier now.
Colton has a life ahead of him that you are already having to build. Tough love works.
The two of you have a bigger job to do than my great Daughter in law and my Son had to do. You'll do it.

Mark Curtis said...

Jessica & Colton - I am just now learning of your situation and am deeply moved. It looks like you've got a lot of great support and with my help, I hope that support grows.

I have a small blog,, that centers around the Civil Air Patrol community and I just posted today about your plight, my readership may not be what is, but every little bit counts!

You're in my family's thoughts and prayers guys!

All The Best,


Aimee & Yuriy said...

Colton and family, I am so sorry to hear what has happend. I know all too well about the feres doctrine and military medical mistakes that put people through the unthinkable and then drop them like it has never happend. Here is my husband's link.
We are working on fighting the doctrine here in IL.
I wish you all the best and you seem like a very tough guy who can make it through anything.
~Marine Wife.

Anonymous said...

I will be in constant prayer for your physical healing ... you may not be the same but you can be a new kind of strong & healthy. And for your spiritually healing ... that this doesn't break you emotionally but that you come out an even better person. And that because of you & your story, laws will be changed because it isn't right that we, as a government, use you & then toss you out when we've used you up - without rewarding your service. The world needs to know that you, Colton, are a HERO. You trusted our government; you obeyed our government; while serving our country, you let our doctors-in-training basically practice on you - that IS also service! At this time, you may be an unsung hero - stay strong & you will receive your reward.

Anonymous said...

Colton, You are extremely special, especially in the site of God. Anything I write might sound like a cliche and I'm sorry for that. I am overwhelmed by your courage and in sorrow that an injustice was done to you after your precious service to our country. I pray that God is blessing you abundantly. Keep focused on him,attach you sacrifice to His and He will bring you more happiness than you can imagine. God bless you always.


Blue Dragon Enterprises said...

Colton, I wrote you an email and it got kicked back. This is Rob Garcia. I really need to talk to you so I can raise some money for you. Email me at

Anonymous said...


Just wanted to let you know that I was thinking of you today...veteran's day. I hope this message finds you well. Drop me a line if you get a chance..
Matt Feeney

Anonymous said...

How sad :'( (((hugs)))

Robbie Read said...

Colton & Jessica, I am going to keep you in my prayers. It is just sickening the way the bureaucracy of the military & the VA treats our service men & women. It is such an honorable thing that our military men & women join to protect & defend our country, but when something happens to them the bureaucracy tries every possible way to keep from doing what's right. I know from 1st hand experience. My husband was a combat medic in Viet Nam. He has 3 Purple Hearts. His worst wound has been causing him problems for years & he has been battling the VA without success for over 15 years. We should have gotten a lawyer like you kids have done. You hang in there & make them do right by you. God Bless you both!