| “…In June 2004, an enemy-fired Rocket Propelled Grenade blew up within feet of me, while I manned a .50 cal machine gun on top of a Humvee in Fallujah, Iraq. I sustained life threatening injuries, and was subsequently put into a medically induced coma, with a machine to breathe for me. I would remain like this for 18 days, where I woke up to my mother, father, and brother in Texas. My left lung, eyes, gastro-intestinal system, and left ear were severely damaged. I had taken burns and shrapnel, and was bandaged up pretty much everywhere. When I woke up, I didn’t know what was going on, had a tube down my nose (to my stomach; not as comfortable as it sounds), I was hooked up to oxygen, I could not eat or drink for over a month, and I had to be strapped into a chair to sit or else I would fall out. Because I could not eat, I went from 185 lbs. to 119 lbs. I thought I was going to waste away and die. Doctors did not know how my body would recover from the devastating blast injuries.And then; I just started getting better. By November, I was somewhat back to being myself. My only lasting permanent injuries would be that my vision is severely decreased, with holes in my maculas, fovias and retinas, and a large tear in my right retina. I had my cataracts replaced and now have to wear reading glasses. I lost half of my left lung, some hearing in my left ear, and now have occasional digestive problems. I still feel the effects of mild brain damage, and notice slight tremors in my hands. (seem to be intermittent)While home in Atlanta on convalescent leave, my father passed away. This was a very difficult and life-changing experience, on the heels of my past year, which had been a very difficult time in my life.
I would return to Texas, where I was still an Active Duty Marine, awaiting a medical retirement. After being retired from the Marines, I found myself working full time, while also full time in college, engaged, and owning a home. Life happened too fast and I became very discontent. Fortunately, I had amassed a bit of material wealth, and could in turn cash that in and buy a boat. It didn’t matter that I had never sailed. The sea called to me and I had to answer it. So at the age of 22, I sold everything I owned, ended a great relationship, dropped out of school and quit my job to move to San Diego and buy a 41 foot cruising boat. My dreams were great; I was going to sail around the world on my boat.
Six months later, in October 2008, I left San Diego, solo, bound for Hawaii to go see my brother. Unfortunately, 8 days and 800+ miles out of port, a Category 4 Hurricane (Norbert) developed pretty much on top of me and ripped the rudder, among other things, out of the boat. I spent about a day trying to jury-rig a rudder, but was ultimately unsuccessful. I was more or less stranded in the middle of an ocean by myself. A freight ship was nearby and offered assistance over the radio, so I took them up on their offer and left my boat in the middle of the ocean, boarding a freight ship bound for Shanghai, China. With no visa for Shanghai, I flew to Hong Kong. I tried to buy another sailboat, but couldn’t afford one, so I settled on the next best thing; a Cannondale mountain bike. Since I could no longer sail around the world, I decided to cycle around. I cycled from China to England, only bypassing Burma, Pakistan and Iran because I could not obtain visas. After 21 countries and close to 9,000 miles, I flew to San Francisco and cycled back down to San Diego, so that I could be the best man in my brother’s wedding.
While in Hong Kong, I spent the majority of my time racing sportboats, and with 9,000 miles of pedaling to collect my thoughts, I have decided to follow my passion and pursue my dreams. I am an aspiring solo ocean racer. I plan to use my racing and the publicity which it creates, to promote worthy causes that I truly believe in. In this case, it is “Hope for the Warriors”. I am a wounded veteran. I have been there. It is difficult. Regardless of your beliefs and opinions regarding the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars, please take a moment to look at what our organization does, and some of the incredible programs within. We are a National Non-Profit organization who strives to increase the quality of life for our wounded service members.
I hope to successfully race the Singlehanded Transpac in 2010, and with any luck, the Mini Transat in 2013. From there, who knows…”