Medal of Honor Recipients Join Bike Ride For Wounded Warriors
(April 9, 2011)
|FORT HOOD, Texas (ANS - April 4, 2011) -- With the
assistance of three Medal of Honor recipients, this year's
Texas Challenge, one in the Ride 2 Recovery series, helped
wounded warriors heal from the wounds of wars suffered in
Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan.|
approximately 230 riders passed through Fort Hood, Texas,
March 31, en route to Arlington, Texas for a Major League
Baseball game. They began their six-day, 350-mile journey
March 28, at the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio.
After a crowd of several hundred people had gathered
near the flagpole outside the III Corps Headquarters, Lt.
Gen. Bob Cone, III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general,
praised the wounded warriors.
"To see this is
awe-inspiring. Folks, the Ride Two Recovery is an amazing
group," Cone said. "It represents what is best about our
country, about the military and most important, the human
spirit. Thanks for inspiring my Soldiers to do their best in
Three medal of honor recipients participated in
the Texas Challenge, including Staff Sgt. Sal
Giunta, the first living recipient of the
nation' highest military award since Vietnam.
Cone also acknowledged "Fort Hood's local hero,"
Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler.
was severely wounded in the Nov. 5, 2009,
shootings on Fort Hood, sat near the front of
the column of riders, ready to pedal his way on
a recumbent-trike from the flagpole to the front
It was Zeigler's first ride since
undergoing brain surgery March 4, after falling
while on vacation with his wife, Jessica, in
After surviving another
life-threatening experience, Zeigler said, "It
feels great to be here with the whole group,
especially everybody in the Texas Challenge. I
wish I could have done the whole thing with
them, but I'm not strong enough yet."
From right, Nathan Green, a retired airman who was wounded in 2008 during an insurgent rocket attack against the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, and Staff Sgt. Patrick Zeigler, who was wounded during the Nov. 5, 2009, shootings at Fort Hood, pause with fellow riders during a ceremony held March 31,
2011 at the flagpole near the III Corps and Fort Hood, Texas, Headquarters building.
Of his determination to ride a short distance,
Zeigler said, "Most of my strength comes from
the love of my wife. She is my rock, and that's
the reason I keep going."
The Ride 2
Recovery event helps to raise funds and
awareness in support of rehabilitation of
wounded warriors. Before arriving at Fort Hood,
the riders completed a journey from Austin, with
an overnight stay in Killeen, Texas, before
attending Fort Hood's rally.
Mike Thornton, a Vietnam veteran who was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1972, hugs U.S. Navy Master at Arms 3rd Class Nathan DeWalt after DeWalt
completed a leg of the Texas Challenge Ride 2
Recovery from Austin, Texas, to Killeen, Texas
on March 31, 2011.
At Killeen, Mike Thornton, a Vietnam vet who was
awarded the Medal of Honor in 1972, said,
"Wounded warriors are not asking for special
treatment because they'redisabled. They're just
asking to let me be part of this great nation
Another Vietnam veteran in
attendance was Johnnie Alexander, who lost both
legs in 1969 when he was hit by an incoming
mortar round. Alexander said he is happy that
his son, Sgt. Phillip Alexander, who is home
after serving two tours in Iraq as a medic, is
receiving better treatment than he did when he
came home from war.
"So it's (public
support) helping to heal wounds to bring the
nation together, and it's helping to bring the
different eras of warriors from Vietnam to
Desert Storm and Iraq and Afghanistan together
as a whole unit. We're a nation of people who,
if we don't stand together and fight together,
we're nothing," he said.
Challenge was the elder Alexander's first Ride 2
"For me, it lets me know
I can face anything I want," he said. In
addition to the special trike, Alexander runs a
12.5-second 100-meter dash with help from two
flexible, computerized legs.
Of the trike
and his legs, he added, "It's great technology.
Anybody can do anything they want to do if they
have the will and desire to do it. With the
technology, it's up to you."
Adaptive technology also has helped Navy Master
at Arms 3rd Class Nathan DeWalt. The military
policeman was paralyzed from the mid-chest down
after a taxi cab driver pulled in front of his
Although he's relied upon a
wheelchair to get around in the 2.5 years since
the accident, DeWalt said "A wheelchair is just
an obstacle you have to climb over. It's not
something in my opinion that really changes the
way you live."
Despite his injuries, he
added, of the people he has met during the four
Ride 2 Recovery rides in which he has
participated, he was most impressed by Delvin
McMillan, a quadruple amputee he rode with last
"It's just phenomenal to see people
with no arms and no legs but prosthetics and be
able to jump on a bike and complete the route,"
he emphasized. "For me, the biggest thing is
coming here and being an inspiration for others.
It's just the opportunity to help somebody else
that drives me and keeps me coming back to these
Article and photos by Michael Heckman|
III Corps and Fort Hood Public Affairs
Army News Service
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