Former Army Staff Sgt. Robbie Doughty remembers July 8, 2004, well. The special operations intelligence soldier was traveling from Tikrit to Balad, which meant “we had to pass through Samara, a hotbed,” Doughty says. “[In Samara], they did not want any Americans in there at all.”
Doughty’s convoy took the bypass route around the city, hoping to avoid confrontation. Apache helicopters whizzed in from behind, making sure there were no insurgents toting guns or planting improvised explosive devices. But the convoy entered the streets before the route was cleared by the helicopters, and a roadside bomb detonated on the lead vehicle.
Doughty was in the front passenger seat with his feet on the running board facing the roadside—a common set up for special forces Humvees.
He lost both legs.
“The only thing I remember is not so much hearing the explosion as feeling it,” Doughty says. “White smoke just sucks the life right out of you…The last time I looked down at my legs, I noticed that my right boot had blown off. My legs were still attached.”
A Special Forces medic synched tourniquets on his legs and “just really did a miraculous job saving my life,” Doughty says.
After reading a USA Today article about Doughty’s road to recovery, Little Caesars founder Mike Ilitch, a former Marine, reached out to the Paducah, Kentucky, veteran.
“Mr. Ilitch said he was really impressed with me and wanted to give me a franchise, but he was also concerned about my physical health,” Doughty says.
Doughty brought in his friend and veteran Lloyd Allard, and in January, they opened the store that inspired the Little Caesars Veteran Program.
The vet program provides qualified, honorably discharged veterans a $5,000 reduction on the franchising fee, financing benefits, and a $5,000 credit on the first store’s equipment order. The entire $20,000 franchise fee is waived for service-disabled veterans like Doughty, who also receive additional financing options and benefits, a $10,000 credit on the initial equipment order, and grand-opening marketing support.
Doughty says running a pizza shop is easy work.