29. David Rachford on Naval Fire Fighting Training Accident

David Rachford wanted to get off the farm and joined the military.  He had a dream of going to explosive ordnance disposal school. First, he had to do some time as a Naval Fire Fighter, stationed on the USS Abraham Lincoln,  which was an aircraft carrier, on the Persian Golf.

A picture of David Rachford

An unfortunate accident happened while training and took away his chances of leaving him crippled and devastated at only 23 years old. David slipped into depression and ended up facing a narcotic addiction.

Today he is a successful web developer, host of two podcasts, and a blog. He has succeeded in healing and has come today to share the story of his difficult journey.  He tells us how he overcomes his injury and addiction, weight loss of over 70 lbs, and how he created a healthy lifestyle.

There seems to be a definite link between mental and physical health. By listening to others, my hope is that you may be able to avoid going down some of these dark allies by finding positive people to surround yourselves with and finding ways to keep your head up while you follow your own healing journey.

Listening to David’s story is sure to help you get a good leg up on your own journey! You can hear the audio on the Podcast: Here

The Accident

They were training in Somali off the Coast of Mogadishu and while doing a drill David was pushed down and suffered a really severe back injury, he felt things pop in his back, his legs collapsed under him and wasn’t able to get up.

At only 23 years old he had been in the best physical shape of his life, being able to do over 100 push-ups and could run forever. Going from being, really fit to crippled, was devastating.


A military hospital is equipped for triage, not for treatment. They are not known for the best care. He was given a couple of Advil and a light-duty certificate.

This went on for a few months until he went back to the US.

The Accident

There was a fire that was pretty big in a chemical storage room when David was on duty. Acids and chemicals were on fire and became a toxic soup that they were wading through. It ate holes through his coveralls and flesh and gave them second and third-degree chemical burns.

They were the only fire team on board so they weren’t able to leave until the next day. David experienced shell shock and a PTSD moment. He never felt that there was any gratitude for what they did and no one was there for them.

The Slide Into Darkness

David’s back injury became worse and led to his discharge. This meant the loss of his dream as he would no longer be able to go to the school. He joined the Veterans Administrations Treatment Program.

It was pain management, which was narcotics, and the option of surgery. The prognosis was not that great, so he decided not to have it. He was now 24 and tells us he became addicted to the medication and received sympathy and money for college.

A friend told him he looked like Santa Clause when he was ready to graduate. He had put on about 70 lbs while eating burritos nightly. He was so mad and knew he needed a change.

David became attached to his business credentials and had an ego and ended up staying in his new career too long.


David was guided by some traditional and non-traditional healing methods.

  • Chiropractic
  • jiu-jitsu
  • Acupuncture
  • Yoga
  • Meditation

He began to walk better, lift weights and run for a couple of minutes. He was able to work up to running for 30 minutes. He began to think about the training he wanted to do in the Navy again as he began dreaming about running long distances.

He felt that was his ego talking. I love the quote he mentions,

“The ultimate reason for setting goals is to entice you to become the person it takes to achieve them”  ― Jim Rohn

It took him about 6-8 months to lose the weight and then he began to train to run his first marathon. He trained for about 6 months to run his first marathon and had a base of about 20 miles that he had worked up to over about 6 months.

Situational Depression

David’s back injury recurred and his mother passed away. For a couple of years, he felt really down as he had lost his fitness ability for some time and grieved his mother. The meditation really helped him to become more open and he found yoga. Yoga led him back to fitness.

He had a limiting belief that yoga was only for, “bendy housewives”!! He decided it wouldn’t be a bad thing to join in with, “bendy housewives” and do yoga, this led to some good laughs, it is so good to laugh!!!!!

David went to the Vipassana yoga retreat twice. The second time, he found easier having a solid yoga foundation that gave him strength.

Parting Advice

He would have sought out instruction in breathing and mindfulness much earlier on. When he went through this there weren’t podcasts with so much free information. If you are listening to one of these shows and you know someone in pain share the resources. Someone may not be ready to hear it when they are acute, but, keep talking to people, always be looking to help someone, and do whatever you can to shine a light where it needs to be shone for them.

If someone is in pain, seek teaching and training in breath and mindfulness. The breathing is the window into the parasympathetic nervous system and subconscious. By changing the way we breathe, it can allow us to get into the subconscious parts where all the healing happens.