(Left to right) U.S. Army Lt. Col. Leslie Darling, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jack Ursey, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Shannon Tyus, all from the 1st Cavalry Division and Combined Joint Task Force-1, complete their 100-mile walk/run on Bagram Air Field, Oct. 31,
2011. Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Catrina Dorsey, 7th MPAD
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (11/7/2011) – Sitting in his office on
a make-shift bed, he has a smile on his face that would reach around
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jack Ursey completed his third
100-mile walk-a-thon in support of the Wounded Warrior Project, Oct.
29-31. Ursey, from Martin, Tenn., chief of personnel for Combined
Joint Task Force-1, said he walked “to honor our nation's 46,000
plus wounded warriors; raise the awareness for what the WWP does for
our wounded warriors and their families; and to raise funds for its
The first step in Ursey's journey began in 2008,
when a parachuting accident, while assigned to the 82nd Airborne
Division, injured both knees.
“My chute collapsed and I fell
75 feet before I hit the ground,” he said. “It fell like a train,
but it could have been worse.”
After several surgeries, his
doctors determined the only solution was for Ursey to have complete
knee replacements; replacing both knees at once.
those first few months were tough, especially while lying in bed
where he would have moments of anger, feeling sorry for himself and
all sorts of what he considered were normal emotions. For Ursey, it
all came down to two choices: quit or fight. He chose to fight.
He began thinking of how he could beat “it”, a way to
close that chapter in his life. Moving forward meant
rehabilitation for his knees, and part of his rehabilitation
“That's when it hit me that I
could do a walk on the one-year anniversary of my
surgeries”, said Ursey.
A friend of Ursey's runs a
100-mile race in Hawaii every year.
“So why couldn't
I walk 100-miles?” he asked.
His wife, Cindy,
suggested a distance of 25 to 50 miles might be more
reasonable, given the severity of his surgeries.
“Anyone can walk 25 to 50 miles, I reasoned” said Ursey.
Since his inaugural walk in 2009, Ursey has completed a
100-mile walk the last two years to honor wounded warriors
and to raise funds for the WWP.
Chief Warrant Officer
2 Shannon Tyus, of Twin Groves, Ark., also walked 100-miles
to support Ursey in his mission of raising awareness of
“To see him do it last year without
complaining about it was inspiring and motivating to me as
well,” said Tyus. “He is extremely passionate about the
“[It's] the least we able bodies can do for the
wounded warriors,” explained Tyus. “After seeing so many
Purple Heart ceremonies, how can you not support our heroes
who have been injured keeping our nation safe.”
Army Lt. Col. Leslie Darling, from Silver City, N.M., said
she chose to run the 100-miles in honor of the thousands of
wounded warriors who may never have the opportunity to run
due to their physical limitations.
“This year is the
first time I participated in the Wounded Warrior Project
walk/run,” said Darling. “I feel humbled and blessed to be
associated with these fine Americans; heroes deserving of
all they were entitled to before injury. If my running
motivates just one person to support and contribute to the
WWP, then it was worth every step.”
She hopes that
perhaps this one act of awareness will resonate with people
and increase their desire to stand by our wounded warrior's
Usrey said that he has a connection with
wounded warriors because he can relate to them on one level
- each of them had to make the choice to quit or fight.
“We hear stories of how wounded warriors are fighting
back every day, refusing to let their injuries stop them,”
said Ursey. “It's physically, mentally and emotionally
challenging to not be the person you used to be. I deal with
it every day with many small challenges.”
every few hours for food and water and the occasional visit
by the doctor to check their feet, the three completed the
event in less than forty eight hours.
soldiers walked with them at their forward operating bases
and combat outposts across Afghanistan.
feed off of their energy and it will carry us through the
rough spot,” said Ursey.
As Ursey continues to raise
awareness for the WWP, he can also take pride that his
desire to teach his children to tackle adversity has taken
“A personnel motivator for me will be that my
14 year-old son will be doing a shadow 100-miler at the same
time in Texas. He inspires me,” said Ursey. “Although we're
almost 8,000 miles apart, we'll be together at that moment,
connected by a cause larger than us as individuals, much
like the idea that created out nation.”
Garret, who completed the 100-mile walk in Texas, finished
it in just under 33 hours, beating his time from the
previous year of 39.5 hours.
“To date we've raised
$15,001 and counting,” said Ursey. “141 troopers across
CJTF-1 and 11 civilians back at Fort Hood, [including] my
son's 100 miles and the 100 miles of his pacers, walked
1,339 miles in that 48-hour period to honor our Wounded
Warriors. Our two goals were $10,000 and 1000 miles – we
exceeded both because of the amazing men and women that
serve our nation and our families back home.”
is the first year others completed the 100-miles with me,”
said Ursey. “It was motivating to me personally that Darling
and Tyus chose to do the entire 100-miles. Both kept me
going when my knees wanted me to stop. They rock!” said
“Most of our wounded warriors are in their
20s...we owe them our support till the end,” Usrey said.
By Combined Joint Task Force 1 - Afghanistan
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