I was resuscitated and could hear and speak, emergency room personnel kept calling my name, 'John, can you hear me?' I answer to my middle name, 'Scott' and informed them of this. I had no visual experience of this time. I was later informed that doctors had considered surgery to alleviate pressure on the brain from the fluid, but it was not performed, I was comatose for four days. I awoke, strapped to a bed with IVs running into my left hand, to see the doctor who is a noted neurosurgeon. He is an eccentric, cosmetically dyed hair, black and white curls and wire-rimmed glasses. He was probably six feet from my face and I asked, 'Who are you, where are we at, and why am I here?' He has a reputation for horrible bedside manner and went into a not-so-hospitable dialog about me being head-injured, brain-damaged, and not even knowing who I was. He also stated that I had no memory, it being erased by the head-injury. Being military, my response was, 'My name is John Hill, Chief Warrant Officer 4, US Army, Cobra Pilot. Again, who are you, where are we at, and who the 'hell' are you? AND, if you're putting anything through that IV that grounds me, I DO remember the meaning of the words 'Law Suit'!
I again lost consciousness and awoke in a much-more disoriented state. I knew who I was, but was having the normal memory and time relative problems of most head-injured. I could not remember if events had happened two days or two years ago. I was in the Watertown Hospital for two weeks and then moved to Walter-Reed Army Medical Center (AMC) for admission into the 'Vietnam Era Traumatic Brain Injury' program. I left the ambulance under my own power and was sitting in reception when the Physician's Assistant, Captain Richard entered and called 'Hill?' looking for a quadriplegic laying around here on a gurney named 'Hill'. I stood up, walked to him, and said, 'Don't know if I'm the 'Hill' you're looking for, but that's my name.' Here you must understand the military perception of Warrant Officers, total authority in their field and without error! At the time there were only four grades, now five, but it's a given that you should not conflict with a Warrant! It becomes comical sometimes, but that's not what we're discussing. So, he looked at me, and then my military ID and said, 'Says here you were dead too, you W4s just don't listen!'
So, I was admitted to the 'Vietnam Era Traumatic Brain Injury Program' at Walter-Reed. I received an initial magnetic resonance imaging to validate the findings of the CAT-Scan performed in New York, which indicated 70-90% brain damage, validated. I was also tested for five days to establish base-line readings regarding a variety of subjects, but most notably, memory. That done, I returned to Fort Drum, New York in time to assist as a logistician in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew cleanup. I was initially assigned a PULHES 'S' (psychological) profile of '2', diminished memory and accountability. That was removed after four weeks due to my performance of duty, being observed by my flight surgeon. I was permanently grounded, but still being an aviator and being part of the traumatic brain injury protocol at Walter-Reed, I was naturally being closely watched. Before my return for subsequent testing in July 1993, I was assigned higher-level duties as the 10th Aviation Brigade S-4 (logistician) and was totally immersed in activities in Somalia, never going there, but in total support logistically. This was a challenge to my memory, having a security clearance that was re-instated and the safes being taken to Somalia, I had to rely on memory. I was the Chief Movements Officer, Comptroller and Logistical Actions Officer for all operations in Somalia. I was also involved in operations after the Blackhawk was shot down.
After being tested in July, 1993, ten months after the accident, I was tested at the 98th percentile in the world in memory and the deputy neurosurgeon at Walter-Reed related that although he would 'Not have given a nickel for my chances of recovery ten months prior' he could find no evidence of effect from the injury. I subsequently returned throughout the two and a half years and was finally discharged from the program, being 'recovered'. He also related that the magnetic resonance imaging performed that week in July indicated 'No Brain Damage', to which I responded, 'How does that happen? Brain damage/death is irreparable?' I suggested that the machines my not be working correctly, to which he responded, 'You've been put in all the MRIs here, same readings each time, we have no explanation for your recovery!' After the Somalia Ordeal and Haiti, I requested a return to retiree status, having been re-called to active duty for four years for the first 'Desert Storm' operation. Retiring initially to Colorado, I began the process for re-instatement of my medical clearance to fly, which was re-instated by the Federal Aviation Agency. I had returned to flight status and for a period, I was flying the gulf rigs. I have also completed a bachelor's degree after this event, graduating with a 3.2 GPA and making the Dean's List once, carrying forty-three credit hours for the year.
Date NDE Occurred: '20 September, 1992'
At the time of your experience, was there an associated life-threatening event? Yes Accident Auto accident caused by subject fleeing police apprehension at speeds of 110 MPH Clinical death (cessation of breathing or heart function or brain function)
After being cut from my vehicle using the 'Jaws-of-Life', I was moved to the hospital and was pronounced 'Dead on Arrival', but resuscitation was commenced. Although I have no visual memory of this time, I heard and spoke with Emergency Room personnel.
How do you consider the content of your experience? Mixed
The experience included: Out of body experience
Did you feel separated from your body? Yes
I clearly left my body and existed outside it
How did your highest level of consciousness and alertness during the experience compare to your normal everyday consciousness and alertness? Normal consciousness and alertness As above.
At what time during the experience were you at your highest level of consciousness and alertness? I viewed myself (out-of-body), lying on a stone pedestal in a warmly-lit cave. Although not even knowing why I was in this position, having no memory of the accident, I thought to myself, 'Do I really want to go back to that crap?' I answered 'No', and the voice of my maternal Grandmother, nothing visual, just her very distinctive voice, to whom I was close, responded, 'John, you've got to go back!' I walked through a void, came to a singular white light, hanging adjacent to a black, seemingly felt-covered garage door with no windows or handles. My perception is that I spent about a total of two minutes at this door, turned perpendicular, walked away - and woke up to the doctor!
Were your thoughts speeded up? Incredibly fast
Did time seem to speed up or slow down? Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning
Feeling that time had basically stopped, no passage, except for viewing the 'garage door' just prior to regaining consciousness.
Were your senses more vivid than usual? Incredibly more vivid
Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere? Yes, and the facts have been checked out
Did you pass into or through a tunnel? Yes
The experience included: Presence of deceased persons
Did you see any beings in your experience? I actually saw them
Did you encounter or become aware of any deceased (or alive) beings? No Met none, but as explained above in main narrative, HEARD the distinctive voice of my deceased Grandmother.
The experience included: Void
The experience included: Darkness
The experience included: Light
Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light? A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin
Did you see an unearthly light? Yes Again see main narrative.
Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world? No
The experience included: Strong emotional tone
What emotions did you feel during the experience? Being a military pilot, we are not an emotional or easily frightened group, rather if we are in an unknown/unaccountable type situation, we tend take account of our surroundings, our situation, and assess just what might be happening and try to discover why we are where we are! Mostly, inquisitive is all that I can relate here.
Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness? Relief or calmness
Did you have a feeling of joy? Happiness
Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe? I felt united or one with the world
Did you suddenly seem to understand everything? Everything about the universe
The experience included: Life review
Did scenes from your past come back to you? My past flashed before me, out of my control
The experience included: Vision of the future
Did scenes from the future come to you? Scenes from the world's future See above, I think I've been assured my salvation - finally.
The experience included: Boundary
Did you reach a boundary or limiting physical structure? Yes As described in main narrative, later related by someone as a barrier to death. I suspect it might have been a boundary to Hell, and that GOD was sending me back to get my salvation straight! I think I finally got it right! Many people tell me that I have some 'special purpose', if I do, well I'm sure GOD will let me know when it is and what HE wants me to do!
Did you come to a border or point of no return? I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was sent back against my will
God, Spiritual and Religion:
What was your religion prior to your experience? Moderate 'Religious, but skeptical.'
Have your religious practices changed since your experience? Yes See above.
What is your religion now? Conservative/fundamentalist 'Not totally caused by the event, but after five years became a devout Christian believer, and do not question scripture, or the sovereignty of GOD.'
Did you have a change in your values and beliefs because of your experience? Yes See above.
Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice? I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin
Did you see deceased or religious spirits? I actually saw them
Concerning our Earthly lives other than Religion:
During your experience, did you gain special knowledge or information about your purpose? Uncertain I seemed to know that I was no longer of this world, and didn't question why. When I questioned myself about returning to this 'crap', how did I know that I wasn't 'here'?
Have your relationships changed specifically because of your experience? No
After the NDE:
Was the experience difficult to express in words? No
Do you have any psychic, non-ordinary or other special gifts after your experience that you did not have before the experience? Uncertain I've always had a sense of either good or not-so-good in both people and animals. Dogs that bite most people don't seem aggressive to me and let me pet them, etc. Some people feel uncomfortable around me, even before I speak.
Are there one or several parts of your experience that are especially meaningful or significant to you? Obviously, the voice of my departed Grandmother.
Have you ever shared this experience with others? Yes Very hard to answer because of the special relationship pilots share with each other. As related by a doctor of Psychiatry, Walter-Reed AMC, 'You pilots are very different people and comprise only one tenth of one percent of the population. Who in their right mind would climb into a machine and take off flying - in something that could kill them in an instant? You are all highly educated, always right, until some proves you wrong, in exceptionally good health/shape. The rest of the population doesn't know how to interact, or doesn't understand you!' I still am jokingly harassed by close friends about being a 'Highlander' (I am a member of Clan: MacMillan) and not able to be killed! The movie had just come out when this all happened to me.
Did you have any knowledge of near death experience (NDE) prior to your experience? Yes I had read several articles about it and when I related my 'experiences' to my psychologist in New York, insuring there were no effects of this event, he only answered that he couldn't commit, having no knowledge of what I related and not being there. This caused a little deeper investigation into the matter.
What did you believe about the reality of your experience shortly (days to weeks) after it happened? Experience was definitely real The 'reality' of this experience has never diminished and is still quite vivid in my memory. When you have the gift of a near photographic memory, as I always have had throughout life, things rarely 'diminish! I still remember falling from a two story high window before my mother could catch me, at eighteen months old. I related this at Walter Reed and it was verified by my mother, after relating how I unlatched the hooks to allow the screen to fall out.
What do you believe about the reality of your experience now? Experience was definitely real
At any time in your life, has anything ever reproduced any part of the experience? No Being a commercial pilot, it's hard to get aspirin down my throat!
Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience? I only offer this as hope to others that suffer traumatic brain injury. I was told that one out of five Americans, over thirty-five years of age, would suffer a traumatic brain injury, and one out of five of them would die! This happened to my sixty-one year old physician, constantly badgering me about being careful and not putting myself in a position to be injured, fell from a ladder at church, onto a concrete parking border, killing him instantly! He was a Christian!
Are there any other questions that we could ask to help you communicate your experience? Think the questionnaire was fine, and as I related above, for a matter as critical as this, if you need to know more, I'm sure you'll ask!