Still Standing: An Inspirational Message from an Iraq War Veteran

Updated: November 12, 2019 06:26 PM

He joined the Minnesota National Guard on his 17th birthday. "It was my dream. I've wanted to since I was a little boy," John Kriesel told the crowd at UWS on Tuesday.


That dream turned into a nightmare, on December 2, 2006. While on patrol in Iraq, Kriesel's humvee hit a roadside bomb. "I don't remember flying up into the air or hitting the ground," he said.

His legs were nearly blown off. "I decided to close my eyes, and just relax. But my friends, who had all gone through combat life saver training, kept hitting me to keep me awake. One, I can still feel, I don't even think he opened his hand. It was basically a punch to my face. Dang. Unbeliveable. I survive a 200 pound bomb, and my buddies are beating me to death," he joked.

Kriesel was medevaced out of there. He doesn't remember nearly dying several times while being brought out of the war zone. He said he remembers waking up at Walter Reed eight days later.

The worst moment for him, was learning two of his best friends had died in the blast."It was the lowest I ever felt in my entire life. But that was the moment I started living my life. I realized, regardless of my injuries, and the recovery ahead of me, I wasn't going to feel sorry for myself. When I got a second chance, and they didn't. I vowed from that day, to live every single day to the fullest."

He shares this message as a motivational speaker. Kriesel spoke as part of a series of events for Veterans Week. 

Kriesel doesn't want pity. He said he's happier than he's ever been. And everyone faces adversity. It's how you react to it, that matters. "With a positive attitude and sense of humor, you will thrive."

During the presentation, he made jokes along the way. Especially about the Vikings, since he's a big fan.

He's written a book called, Still Standing. He was signing copies for people after the speech on Tuesday.

To learn more about Kriesel:

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