My Marine unit was the first to enter Afghanistan. Immediately after 9/11, we diverted from the scheduled deployent and conducted the longest amphibious assault in history. We launched from our ships and caputered a desert outpost controlled by the Taliban. The outpost became the first U.S. land base established in Afghanistan.
We engaged the enemy from the start. During one engagement, I was shot in the hand. While recouperating in a rear area I volunteered for a mission and stepped on a landmine which resulted in the traumatic amputation of my left leg below the knee.
The on-scene corpsman stabilized my wound and immediately prepared me for evacuation. From the battlefield, I was flown to a field hospital and then on to Germany. Then I was sent to Walter Reed where I spent the next year rehabilitating and learning to walk on a prosthetic limb.
At Walter Reed I was given the opportunity to retire. I was told that I had done my part and to consider my options for life after the military. That however, was not the option I wanted to consider. I made a comittment to serve and I wanted to stay in so, for seven months I proved during countless physical tests that an amputee could meet the the requirements to remain on active duty.
After receiving clearance to stay in the military, I returned to my unit. In December 2003, I was sent to jump school and became one of the few amputee paratroopers in recent history. After that, I returned to my unit and deployed to Iraq. Between 2004-2007, I deployed to Iraq three times. My unit took part in several battles, the most notable of which was the First Battle of Fallujia in April 2004.
Today, I ‘m dedicated to raising my 3-year-old daughter Kaitlyn and helping fellow injured veterans recover through sports. I coordinate sports activites at San Diego Naval Hospital and I’m a member of CAF Operation Rebound.
Sports, specifically Operation Rebound, helped me get back into life after injury. Many veterans, as I, were highly active and engaged in a number of sports prior to entering the military. They were in top physical shape and, as a result of their service, were in an instant, faced with the life-altering challenge of traumatic limb loss, spinal cord injury, blindness or traumatic brain injury. The resilience of these men and women motivates them to face their injury as a challenge to overcome instead of a life-limiting disability.
Through participation in sports, we demonstrate to others and prove to ourselves that we not only have the ability to overcome our challenges, but to excel in a sport that we never thought we would be able to participate in again.
Operation Rebound has given me and my fellow injured veterans the opportunity to experience the healing power of sports. The program provides sports equipment, competition and training fees for any sport and is funded by private donations.
On flight 93 it was ordinary citizens who first took a stand against terror. It’s ordinary citizens like you who continue to make a difference in the lives of my fellow veterans by helping them get from the frontline to the finish line. Thank a vet by visit www.operationrebound.org and supporting the effort.
Chris Chandler, USMC (retired), Challenged Athletes Foundation Operation Rebound Program
In 2001, Chris lost his leg in Afghanistan and then subsequently served 3 additional combat tours in Iraq as an amputee.