A Day To Celebrate

When Aggie bonfire survivor John Comstock rolled across the floor to accept his degree in 2010, his expected graduation date when he was a freshman in 1999 changed. Overcoming his disabilities from injuries he had sustained the night of Nov. 18, 1999, he pushed on to earn his degree. Today he works for Texas A&M University Systems as a financial specialist and shares his story as a motivational speaker at various events like the Wharton County Aggie Muster set for April 21 in Wharton.

When the Texas A&M “Aggie Bonfire” collapsed in November 1999, freshman John Comstock feared for his life as he lay beneath the rubble for more than seven hours. Comstock will speak about his ordeal at the Wharton County Aggie Muster, and how he struggled to overcome the emotional and physical scars it left behind.

Aggie Muster, hosted by the Wharton County A&M Club, will be held Wednesday, April 21 at the Wharton Civic Center. Doors will open at 5:30 p.m. with dinner being served and the program starting at 6:30 p.m.

Guest speaker Comstock, ’03, was the last survivor to be pulled from the bonfire collapse. Through his long recovery, he returned to A&M and graduated, and now works for Texas A&M University Systems as a financial specialist. He is also a motivational speaker who shares his story to inspire others going through adversity and loss. Today he lives a completely independent life with his wife and son, works full time and travels the country to help others overcome the challenges they may face in life.

Comstock was injured Nov. 18, 1999.

“I was a freshman at A&M ... first Aggie of my family,” he said. “(I) was roughly trapped for over seven hours during the collapse.”

He had many injuries, sustaining the loss of his left leg above the knee as well as some paralysis to his arm and leg.

“I use a wheelchair full time for mobility,” he said. “I returned to A&M around 2001, originally class of 99, and went slow and steady until graduation in 2010 with a degree in agricultural leadership.”

Comstock started working with TAMU Systems and speaking around 2015 and married wife Michelle, who had a son, about three years ago.

In addition to his family, work and speaking engagements, he also “loves adaptive water-skiing, fishing and all things nerdy,” he said.

Looking back to the night that changed his life, Comstock said, “I loved building (the) bonfire as a freshman. I wasn’t too focused academically at that time. I was pretty much hooked on building bonfire and playing 42. The work was hard, the hours are long, and most that attempt to participate don’t last very long. Only the very few select passionate bonfire builders keep participating because they love the hard work and comradery from bonfire.”

After the collapse, Comstock said, “tackling the campus and independence were the hardest struggles; but slow and steady (I) won the race. It was a difficult goal to reach full independence; but over time I’ve been able to overcome those challenges and push forward.”

Tickets and reserved tables can be purchased online at www.whartoncountyags.org or by mailing a check to Robin Hensley, ’03, by April 15 to 2607 FM 961, Wharton, TX 77488. For more information, contact Hensley at 979-541-9004 or by email at wcagsMuster@gmail.com.

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