FORT BELVOIR, Va. – “I must have been a bit confused at first,”
said medically retired U.S. Army Spc. Haywood Range, a competitor in
the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games, as he described the
first moments of alertness after the rollover incident that caused
him to lose a limb.
“I saw a mangled arm. And I was like,
‘Whose arm is that?'” Range said.
Later, he realized that
that was, in fact, his arm he'd seen mangled up.
U.S. Army Veteran Spc. Haywood Range, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, sets to throw the shot put practicing for the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Fort Belvoir, Va., June 15, 2015. Range is one of more than 40 active duty and veteran athletes training at Fort Belvoir. He represented Team Army in the archery, swimming, track and field in the 2015 DOD Warrior Games held at Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Va., June 19-28. The 2015 DOD Warrior Games is an adaptive sports competition for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. Approximately 250 athletes, representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Special Operations Command and the British Armed Forces will compete in archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field and wheelchair basketball. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Sandy Barrientos)
“I actually do remember seeing the vehicle come down on
me,” he said. “It all happened so fast.”
infantryman with 10th Mountain Division's 1st Brigade Combat
Team was a high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicle
gunner, training at the Army's National Training Center at
Fort Irwin for an Afghanistan deployment when the Humvee he
was in rolled over.
“I wasn't even normally a
gunner,” Range said. “I even had to go to special training
at NTC to qualify to be a gunner.”
Range recalls hearing
his truck commander yelling,
“During a rollover, they would normally pull the gunner
inside the vehicle,” Range said. “They didn't get a chance
to pull me in. I must have been out. I remember the vehicle
rolling about three or four times. But, they told me it was
more like eight to 12 times.”
When it was all said
and done, then 25 year-old Range, who had joined the U.S.
Army the year prior, lost his right arm.
“I'm right handed. What am I gonna do now?” he thought.
“I never had a plan A or B for my life – or a five-year plan,”
Range said. “I didn't have any plan. I thought life just worked
Before joining the Army, the Jupiter, Florida,
native spent some time at the University of the Cumberlands on a
wrestling scholarship. Later, he would transfer to Jacksonville
University where he played football. But, he wasn't focused.
“I basically failed out of college,” said Range. “I wasn't in school
and I wasn't doing anything. I ended up on food stamps. I felt like
a failure. I had to do something with my life. That's when I joined
Range signed up to be a 91L, a construction
equipment repairer. But, he ended up as an 11B, infantryman.
Range explained that when he was in the hospital, after having his
arm amputated, he thought his life was basically over. He wondered
why this happened to him.
“I thought I couldn't do anything
anymore,” he said. “I kept trying to figure out how I was going to
work out with one arm. My parents were at a loss, too. What will
their son do now?”
Range found himself at Fort Sam Houston,
Texas, at the Center for the Intrepid, and there is where life
changed for him.
“I met people who were like me and they were
doing all kinds of things—including adaptive sports” Range said.
“And they were happy and smiling and in good spirits. I was like,
‘Wow, what's going on here?'”
He said the other wounded
warriors told him to change how he thought, from can't do to can do.
He also said they told him he should have faith in God who “changes
things” and “opens doors.”
“I did change my mind and
developed stronger faith in God,” Range said. “My amazing wife, God
and my family and friends have helped me be an overcomer.”
Haywood is competing in swimming, field and track during the 2015
DOD Warrior Games, which will take place June 19-28 at Marine Base
Throwing the shot put and discus are the
last sports Range said he would have done before his amputation.
However, it turns out to be where he is most skilled. So much so
that he will leave Virginia for a few days during the DOD Warrior
Games to go throw for the U.S. Paralympics.
“I can't believe
everything that is happening right now,” Range said. “God is so good
and just continues to be so good.”
Range is married with
three children. The family recently moved to San Antonio, Texas
where Operation Finally Home gave them a newly built, mortgage-free
“I understand now that with God all things are
possible,” Range said. “Even with just one arm.”
By Stephanie P. Abdullah
Office of the Surgeon General
U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command
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