Time reported that the U.S. Military had reached a grim milestone: the 500th amputee to return from the Iraq War. As of 2008, the Department of Defense reported that 877 American troops had suffered major limb amputations in Iraq and Afghanistan. And last month, USA Today reported that of the 52 cases of combat amputation casualties in Afghanistan through May of this year (more statistics here), 31 (60%) were troops who lost 2, 3, or 4 limbs. Of the casualties of both wars, a total of 6 U.S. service members have been left quadruple amputees. I found the stories of 4 of these brave and determined soldiers:
Todd Nicely (1st image)
Corporal, U.S. Marines
Todd Nicely received his injuries in March 2010, when he stepped on an IED while leading a patrol across a bridge in the Helmand province in southern Afghanistan. He had been there for 5 months, having previously served in Iraq. When Nicely was told he had lost his hands in addition to his legs, he was quiet before asking, "Did anybody else get hurt?" He was glad to hear the answer was no, and said from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, "All you can do is be thankful you're alive, which I am."
Travis Mills (2nd image)
Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army
Travis Mills was critically wounded in April 2012 when an IED detonated while he was on patrol during his 3rd tour of duty in Afghanistan. "I just had a bad day at work," he remarked from his hospital bed at Walter Reed, and told a reporter, "Just because stuff happened to me, I don't think it makes me a hero. I think it just makes me a guy that did his job, knew the consequences of what could happen and something happened."
John M. Peck (3rd image)
Sergeant, U.S. Marines
John Peck lost parts of all 4 limbs when he stepped on an IED in Afghanistan in May 2010, only 2 months into his 1st deployment. Peck wants to go back to work, and says, “In this economy I don’t understand why so many people want to help, but I do understand that I have overcome a lot, and my goal is to be as independent as possible and have a good life.”
Taylor Morris (4th image)
Explosive Ordinance Disposal Technician, U.S. Navy
Cedar Falls, Iowa
Taylor Morris was injured in a bomb blast in May 2012 while on patrol with U.S. Army Special Forces in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, during his 1st tour of duty. Recovering at Walter Reed, he says, “Tell folks back home I chose this path, and I knew it was dangerous going into it. And it’s unfortunate it happened. But I don’t want them to pity me or to feel bad. I’m doing fine, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get back to 100%.” “And just being as capable as I was before — with the prosthetics,” he added later.
Heroes all. "Thank you for your service" does not seem sufficient.