Helping Hands for Freedom is a 501c3 dedicated to supporting the families of the fallen, wounded and deployed.

Indiana Grand Racing & Casino salute military and law enforcement heroes and hosted a fun-filled evening featuring two American Warriors making a difference for military children and families.

Posted July 21, 2015 by Rodney Smith

Chris Bain was not supposed to be there.

The last place anyone who knew the retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. in 2004 expected him to be was at Indiana Grand Racing and Casino Thursday night giving a speech about his time in Iraq.

After all, the man was dead for 18 minutes on the battlefield in Taji, Iraq, after his interpreter used a cellphone to shoot a puff of white smoke, making Bain a “marked man.”

But, there stood the main who lost 4½ pints of blood, underwent 18 surgeries and has an electronic battery pack embedded in his butt to send an electrical charge to the left side of his body.

Bain was in Shelby County Thursday to be honored, along with Debbie Lee, mother of fallen Navy SEAL Marc Lee, during Indiana Grand Racing and Casino’s Salute to Our Armed Forces event, in conjunction with Helping Hands For Freedom, a 501(c)(3) organization which aids military families dealing with loss, death in combat and deployment. “I’ve done a lot of great things and trained a lot of great soldiers. Aug. 8, 2004, I was in Taji and caught about two to three hours of sleep,” said Bain, who recounted finding out his twin brother was in Iraq after seeing him at a check point. “That was the best and worst day in Iraq.”

After spending the day with his brother, Bain said he later got the green light to go on a raid in Taji.

“We jumped out and got ambushed. My interpreter set me up. The puff of smoke went up and we got hit with mortars from all over. I got my guys under cover and ran back to where we were set up. I got shot in the arm, elbow, other places and then I got the million dollar shot. If you’ve seen ‘Forrest Gump,’ you know what I’m talking about - shot in the buttocks. I kept going in and out, and bled out on the battle field. Two other interpreters did a blood transfusion, and, thankfully, my body didn’t reject it. If it wasn’t for those two and my guys, I wouldn’t be here today,” Bain said.

Bain said Helping Hands for Freedom has given him an outlet to talk about the issues troops deal with once they return home.

“Thanks to Helping Hands for Freedom, I have an opportunity to talk about and share my story. If you know any veteran going through hard times, give them my number, 570-419-9905. I’ll go anywhere to help my brothers and sisters. Freedom is not free and it comes with a price, but that is a good price to pay. It’s all about taking care of our fellow man,” Bain said.

As for Lee, she completely understands the sacrifices soldiers make, as she once had four family members serving at one time, including her son.

Marc Lee was the first Navy SEAL to lose his life in Operation Iraqi Freedom, killed in a firefight in Ramadi. He received the Silver Star, Bronze Star with Valor and Purple Hart posthumously and the Marc A. Lee Training Center was dedicated at the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado in California. He was also portrayed by Luke Grimes in the 2014 movie “American Sniper.”

“I’ll never forget the sacrifices made by law enforcement and the military,” Lee said.

Lee recounted the day of Aug. 2, 2006, when her life “changed forever.”

“I was told my son was killed in action. I remember the last time he came home and as he was driving away, I told my oldest son that I did not have a good feeling,” she said.

During her speech, Lee told of how her son rose up three times to put the burden of the enemy on his shoulders during a two-hour firefight in Ramadi.

“SEALS are just as human as you or I. Marc willingly gave his life to give the gift of life to his teammates. He believed in the mission, and I met some of you who served in Ramadi, you made a difference,” Lee said.

She also recalled Lee’s final letter, in which he wrote about random acts of kindness.

“I had a choice in how I responded when I was told the news, and I picked up Marc’s boots and continued the fight. We want to make sure we never forget our heroes,” Lee said.

The night was part of Indiana Grand’s salute to the military and also featured six horse races named in honor of military or law enforcement heroes Thursday during its race card.

“We have people who served all branches working for us. These are the people who make it happen so we can sit at events like this,” said Centaur Gaming COO and President Jim Brown.

The races were named for the following: fallen IMPD Officer Jake Laird, who was an 8-year Marine and killed in 2004; Patrick Shannon, the founder of Helping Hands For Freedom and a Purple Heart and Bronze Star recipient; Jason Baker, a Marion County Deputy Sheriff officer who was shot and killed following a high-speed pursuit; Indiana State Police Senior Trooper James Patrick Bartram, who was killed in an automobile accident; Bain and Marc Lee.

Paul Gable is the editor of The Shelbyville News