Seven years ago, Bobby Henline was deployed just north of Baghdad when his life changed forever.
The Humvee Henline was riding in was struck by a bomb that killed the other four men in the vehicle and left him with burns on 38 percent of his body, including severe scars on his face and head.
Two years later, Henline’s left arm was amputated, leaving him unable to do everyday activities, like playing golf.
But the Army veteran of 13 years found an unusual way to cope with the pain: He became a comedian.
The comedy is “based on what people are thinking, but are afraid to say,” Henline said. “I know I look different, so I do some Freddy Krueger jokes. You just kind of go with it, and I’m a burned guy so I do burned jokes.”
The former Brave Rifles soldier turned “well-done comedian” was back at Fort Hood as a participant in the 18th annual Fort Hood Officers’ Spouses’ Club Golf Scramble at the Courses of Clear Creek on Friday.
The tournament is the club’s third major fundraiser of the year with a total of 94 golfers on 16 teams participating in the event.
Henline, 42, enlisted in the Army in 1989, was stationed at Fort Hood with the 1st Cavalry Division and served in Desert Storm. He re-enlisted after 9/11, but by then he was 30.
“I had these young kids calling me grandpa,” Henline recalled with a smile.
On April 7, 2007, Henline was a deployed staff sergeant with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, when his vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb. It was his third deployment. He spent more than two months in the hospital fighting for his life and had more than 40 surgeries.
Henline’s path to comedy started with a “pinky” swear with an occupational therapist in 2009, and he’s been in love with it ever since.
Henline said he finds inspiration for his comedy in everyday life and has found a self-deprecating style that works, much like Rodney Dangerfield.
“My daughter is a special-needs child,” Henline said. “She keeps reminding me that she specially needs a new Coach purse, a new Dooney (& Bourke) bag.”
Henline will be featured on PBS’ “Coming Back with Wes Moore,” a three-part series that delves into the personal lives of soldiers as they come back home. The episodes air at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 20 and May 27.
Henline also is a motivational speaker and lives in San Antonio with his wife, Connie, and four children.
To read more about Henline, go to bobbyhenline.com.
For more information about the spouses’ club, go to forthoodspousesclub.org.