On October 25, 2010, Todd Love and his fellow Marines were conducting a routine sweep of an abandoned residence in southern Afghanistan. But as they exited the compound one of the Marines stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). His metal detector failed to pick up the bomb; the next thing he remembered was being woken up by a shot of morphine and, terrifyingly, realizing that both his legs and a part of his left arm were missing. But while his comrades were just happy to see him alive, it’s what the marine has done since that’s truly inspirational.
Todd Love joined the United States Marines in 2008, right after leaving high school. Born and raised in Georgia, Love was following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, both of whom had been in the Marine Corps.
After a successful training, he joined Marine Division Recon – an arm of the marines that focuses on intelligence gathering. He flew to Afghanistan in May 2010 for his first combat deployment.
However, during a typical reconnaissance mission, everything went wrong. After Love and his team finished examining an abandoned residence in the Helmand Province, he accidentally stepped on an IED.
Recalling the harrowing experience, Love said “My buddy was the first one to walk up to me… he said that he thought I was dead. But when they shot me with morphine, they say I came back to life.”
He spent the next few grueling months in physical therapy, during which he learned how to walk and use a prosthetic arm.
It wasn’t until April 2011 that Love was finally ready to return home to the small town of Acworth, Georgia.
It was an emotionally charged moment, with hundreds of locals coming out to greet the heroic marine as he arrived at McCollum Airport. Love was touched by the reception: “I don’t know what to say right now. Thank you so much. It’s nice to be home. I love y’all,” he said.
At this point the reality of being disabled for the rest of one’s life would have started to sink in for most people, but not for Love. He was determined to live his life to the fullest, despite having suffered such a huge setback.
It’s for this reason that Love joined Team X-T.R.E.M.E. – a group of wounded war veterans who participate in a variety of extreme sports. The team was created not only to showcase the strength and tenacity of soldiers, but also to raise awareness on behalf of injured veterans.
Team X-T.R.E.M.E. made the event even more difficult by putting on special masks that restrict breathing by almost one third. And the iconic pictures of Todd finishing the race after five and a half hours have since gone viral.
Since then, Love has pretty much done it all. Despite having no legs and only one hand, he has skydived solo, kayaked, skied with the help of a special device, and surfed in Hawaii.
Love now resides in a purpose-built “smart home” that reflects his needs. And while he has said that he misses his legs, he’s explained that “his newfound ability to influence others is a more than adequate consolation.”
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