For almost 12 miles he has been carrying about 35 pounds of gear. He sees a clock in the near distance with red digital numerals closing in on the three-hour mark, the time limit for the near half marathon march. He wants to sprint to the finish line, but his face winces with every right step taken.
His breaths are heavy and pain can be heard with each inhale. His left leg is in full stride, but his right, being amputated more than six years ago, now pushes forward on a damaged prosthetic; a piston broke a few miles back eliminating fluid motion.
He picks up a faster, but still a limping pace. Sweat drips into his eyes and his fists are clenched tight as he approaches the finish line with two minutes to spare. He stops before crossing, pulls out his canteen, pours water on his helmet and face.
He takes a giant step with his left foot and says two words, “Air Assault.” He then takes another step with his prosthetic, exhales and accomplishes his mission. He has just completed the Army’s Air Assault School, on one leg.
Sergeant 1st Class Greg Robinson, a 34-year old combat engineer assigned to the Company A, 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, pinned on his Air Assault badge during a graduation ceremony held at Fort Campbell’s Sabalauski Air Assault School, Monday.
According to the school’s records, Robinson is the first Soldier with an amputated limb and prosthetic to complete the Air Assault School.
“It’s a really good feeling and I just hope this can inspire other amputees and other people with disabilities that they can accomplish things,” said Robinson, who lost his lower right leg while deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan during a fire-fight in Operation Medusa, October 3, 2006. “My biggest thing today is to let that someone who is laying there wounded in that hospital bed know not to get down on yourself. You can still continue despite missing a limb. A disability is only a disability if you let it hold you down.”
There’s more at the link. Go read, and feel duly inadequate by this man’s side.
From one combat veteran to another: SFC Robinson, if we ever meet, I’m buying. Thank you for setting so courageous an example.