First Lieutenant Melissa Stockwell was the first woman to lose a limb in active combat. Today, she’s a world-class athlete vying to compete in the 2016 Olympics.
As a child, Melissa dreamed of being an Olympic gymnast. She trained hard to achieve her goal, but, there was an overarching desire to be something very different than an Olympian.
Young Melissa Stockwell wanted to be an Army soldier… more than anything else in the world.
Shortly after the terrorist attacks on 9-11, Melissa followed her desire. While attending college at the University of Colorado, she enrolled in the Army’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, aka ROTC.
Little did the young woman who once aspired to be an Olympic gymnast know, it would be a decision that would forever change her life.
In 2004, Melissa was deployed to Iraq. She was in-country for less than a month when tragedy struck. On April 13th, 2004, Melissa was commanding a convoy traveling through Baghdad when a roadside bomb exploded next to her Humvee.
Melissa Stockwell was about to begin her new life.
Over the course of a year “Melissa endured infections and 15 surgeries.” She was awarded the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star for her service & injuries.
While recovering at Walter Reed Medical Center, Melissa made a promise to herself to live her life “for those that didn’t make it back and who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
Melissa, who once dreamed of going to the Olympics as a gymnast, sought to live for those who didn’t make it back from the war, through sports. She writes on her site: “Thanks to the Wounded Warrior Project I skied down the ski slopes of Breckenridge, Colo., on one leg proving to myself that there were no limits. Achilles’ Freedom team gave me the chance to handcycle the NYC marathon on 2005.”
— BP America (@BP_America) May 23, 2016
Today, Melissa is a Paralympian, a 3-time World Paratriathlon Champion, and has won several US Paratriathlon championships. Melissa is also a certified prosthetist, designing prosthetics for other amputees.
Melissa is the co-founder of the Dare2Tri Paratriathlon Club which “serves youth, adults, and injured service members who have a physical disability such as amputation, spinal cord injury, stroke, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, and those with visual impairments and blindness.” Melissa also served on the board of the Wounded Warrior Project.
Currently, this American dynamo is training to be on the U.S. Paralympic team which will compete in the 2016 Olympics being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Melissa has truly lived up to her promise to “live for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.” She is an inspiration. We know she’ll do well in her endeavors. She has a Warrior’s spirit. God bless her, her family, and all wounded veterans.
Here’s Melissa’s amazing story in her own words:
— U.S. Olympic Team (@TeamUSA) May 2, 2016