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.”
Range, an 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 itself out.”
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 the Army.”
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 Quantico, Virginia.
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 home.
“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
Provided through DVIDS
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