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Kevin Flike, a Green Beret at the time, takes a selfie while on a patrol in in northern Afghanistan in 2011. Flike, 35, promised himself he would run a marathon after getting shot by a Taliban sniper in Afghanistan on that deployment.
Kevin Flike, a Green Beret at the time, takes a selfie while on a patrol in in northern Afghanistan in 2011. Flike, 35, promised himself he would run a marathon after getting shot by a Taliban sniper in Afghanistan on that deployment. (Kevin Flike)
Kevin Flike, a Green Beret at the time, takes a selfie while on a patrol in in northern Afghanistan in 2011. Flike, 35, promised himself he would run a marathon after getting shot by a Taliban sniper in Afghanistan on that deployment.
Kevin Flike, a Green Beret at the time, takes a selfie while on a patrol in in northern Afghanistan in 2011. Flike, 35, promised himself he would run a marathon after getting shot by a Taliban sniper in Afghanistan on that deployment. (Kevin Flike)
Former Green Beret Kevin Flike runs on a treadmill with his fitness coach, Jordan Lowry, while training for the Boston Marathon at the TB12 Sport Therapy Center, Foxborough, Mass., in April 2018. Flike, 35, promised himself he would run a marathon after getting shot by a Taliban sniper in Afghanistan in 2011.
Former Green Beret Kevin Flike runs on a treadmill with his fitness coach, Jordan Lowry, while training for the Boston Marathon at the TB12 Sport Therapy Center, Foxborough, Mass., in April 2018. Flike, 35, promised himself he would run a marathon after getting shot by a Taliban sniper in Afghanistan in 2011. (Kevin Flike)
Staff Sgt. Kevin Flike recovers from a gunshot wound at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, in October 2011. Flike, 35, needed six surgeries as part of his recovery.
Staff Sgt. Kevin Flike recovers from a gunshot wound at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, in October 2011. Flike, 35, needed six surgeries as part of his recovery. (Kevin Flike)
Former Green Beret Kevin Flike, 35, poses for a photo in Plymouth, Mass., in 2018.  Flike said his dreams to run a marathon are undeterred by the postponement of his race, the Boston Marathon, due to coronavirus concerns.
Former Green Beret Kevin Flike, 35, poses for a photo in Plymouth, Mass., in 2018. Flike said his dreams to run a marathon are undeterred by the postponement of his race, the Boston Marathon, due to coronavirus concerns. (Ashley McDowell)
Green Beret Kevin Flike takes a selfie while on patrol in an Army Ground Mobility Vehicle in Baghlan province, Afghanistan, in 2010.
Green Beret Kevin Flike takes a selfie while on patrol in an Army Ground Mobility Vehicle in Baghlan province, Afghanistan, in 2010. (Kevin Flike)
Green Beret Kevin Flike rests prior to a large Taliban attack on his unit in Faryab province in northern Afghanistan on May 13, 2011. Flike, 35, said he got perhaps one hour of sleep in the two-day gunfight that occurred after this photo was taken.
Green Beret Kevin Flike rests prior to a large Taliban attack on his unit in Faryab province in northern Afghanistan on May 13, 2011. Flike, 35, said he got perhaps one hour of sleep in the two-day gunfight that occurred after this photo was taken. (Kevin Flike)
Former Green Beret Kevin Flike shows the scar where doctors took a nerve in his leg to graft into his stomach, in a photo taken in Tacoma, Wash., in 2012. Flike?s left leg was paralyzed and had atrophied to the size of his arm, but an experimental treatment helped restore his ability to move that leg, signaled at first by a lone muscle twitch.
Former Green Beret Kevin Flike shows the scar where doctors took a nerve in his leg to graft into his stomach, in a photo taken in Tacoma, Wash., in 2012. Flike?s left leg was paralyzed and had atrophied to the size of his arm, but an experimental treatment helped restore his ability to move that leg, signaled at first by a lone muscle twitch. (Kevin Flike)

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Days after a Taliban sniper’s shot left Staff Sgt. Kevin Flike bedridden and awaiting what would become six separate surgeries, he made himself a promise: he’d recover and he’d finish a marathon.

It took nearly nine years for Flike, 35, to get to where he could make good on that promise. The former Green Beret was among the 31,000 entrants in the 124th Boston Marathon who were scheduled to run the race April 10, until the coronavirus pandemic made holding the event out of the question, for now.

“I think for a lot of people, the wind has been taken out of their sails, and it has for me,” Flike said in a phone call Tuesday. “It’s been pretty devastating for me.”

Flike’s story underscores one of the many ways the pandemic has interrupted life in the U.S., were 4,226 coronavirus cases have been confirmed or are under investigation, and 75 have died, the World Health Organization reported as of Tuesday. The unreported number of infections is generally considered to be much higher.

The virus has led to sporting event cancellations across the country. Boston Marathon officials have rescheduled the run for Sept. 14.

Flike said he remains hopeful that better times are ahead.

“We’re going to get through this,” he said. “I think adversity is given to you so you can be better.”

Flike, a recipient of the Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars, is very familiar with adversity.

In 2011, the sniper shot Flike as he cleared a valley with Afghan and U.S. commandos. The bullet tore through his stomach. The surgeries required the removal of 20% of his colon, and left 40 inches of scars, as shown in the documentary “Wounded By War,” which Flike produced.

His left leg was paralyzed and had atrophied to the size of his arm, he told Stars and Stripes last spring, but an experimental treatment helped restore his ability to move that leg, signaled at first by a lone muscle twitch.

A former college athlete, he’d previously measured his physical prowess in 300-pound bench press repetitions and 5-mile run times, but months after being shot, “I needed help putting on my socks.”

When he felt that twitch, it “was like the greatest achievement in my life,” he said. Soon, sweat pouring down his face, he was able to fully extend his leg, he said.

Flike said he remains in chronic pain. But he persevered through his rehabilitation and overcame a prescription pill addiction, he said. In 2016, he earned degrees from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Flike is now a Green Beret Foundation board member and works for Threat Stack, a Boston-based cybersecurity firm. As measures to stop the virus’ spread continue, the father of two has been spending more time with his two young children while working from his home in Boston. Once the initial disappointment of the marathon’s postponement passed, Flike said he took comfort from a little perspective.

“I thought, ‘how lucky am I? I’m still healthy. I still have my family,’” he said.

With more time to train, he might be able to run faster in the marathon this September, he added.

“My story is all about overcoming adversity. If I just had to train for it and run it, it would be easy,” Flike said. “I’ve waited 8 1/2 years, what’s another six months?”

Stars and Stripes reporter Chad Garland contributed to this report.

lawrence.jp@stripes.com Twitter: @jplawrence3

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