Wounded Warriors Take Heroes Leap
Story by Robert Shields, BAMC Public Affairs
Published December 5, 2012
Photo by Robert Shields
Wounded Warrior Sgt. Arie Colon Rivera is all smiles coming in for landing as his skydiving tandem partner Connie holds the reins at this year’s Leap of the Heroes 3.
When it comes to the extreme sport of skydiving, most people would probably ask, “Why would I jump out of a perfectly good airplane?”
This question, however, didn’t stop a group of comrades from taking that heart-pounding, stomach-in-your-throat leap. Twenty BAMC Wounded Warriors – from amputees to those with less visible wounds of war -- participated in the third annual Leap of the Heroes on Nov. 9.
The Wounded Warrior Program teamed with the Travis County Sheriff's Office and Skydive San Marcos to sponsor the event in nearby San Marcos, Texas.
Jumping out of a plane truly has its benefits for these warriors, said Tim Horton, a wounded warrior and alumni manager for the Wounded Warrior Project.
“It allows wounded warriors freedom from their injuries,” he said. “When leaping out of a plane, the wounded warriors forget about their injuries for a moment and just enjoy the ride down.”
The purpose of the Leap of the Heroes is to show wounded warriors just how much the local community appreciates their service and sacrifice to our great nation, he added.
The warriors were escorted by four different city and county police departments through San Marcos to a small air strip on the outskirts of the town. Here the service members were treated to a day filled with music, barbeque and the thrill of leaping from a perfectly good airplane at 13,000 feet above the earth.
Wounded Warrior Staff Sgt. Michael Smith says he refuses to let the loss of his arm be the strong hold of his life. "I started horseback riding two weeks ago and even went out and bought a pair of cowboy boots" he said. "Skydiving... It's just one of those things you don't see amputees doing."
Wounded Warrior Sgt. Arie Colon Rivera was grinning ear to ear after he landed. While many were OK with just one the jump, Rivera said he’d be happy to leap again in a heartbeat.