Former Army Officer To Compete In Paralympics

Team Infidel

Forum Spin Doctor
April 18, 2008
World News With Charles Gibson (ABC), 6:30 PM
CHARLES GIBSON: Finally tonight, our person of the week. It takes grit and determination to become a world class athlete with the chance to compete at the Olympic Games. Tonight, a woman who is doing it against all odds. Four years ago this week, this soldier lost her leg in Iraq and now she’s headed to Beijing. Here’s Bob Woodruff.
1ST LT. MELISSA STOCKWELL [U.S. Army]: I looked up at the clock. I didn’t believe it was my time, so just to hear my name and American record in the same sentence was cool – really cool.
BOB WOODRUFF: Army First Lieutenant Melissa Stockwell just took the U.S. Paralympic trials by storm, breaking the American record in the 400m freestyle. This summer, Melissa will represent the U.S. in Beijing.
STOCKWELL: I thought this is the moment. I’m just going to give it all I have and it went a lot better than I expected it to.
WOODRUFF: It has been a remarkable road for a woman who joined the ROTC in college and headed to Baghdad fours year ago with the 1st Cavalry Division. Just three weeks into her deployment, she was on a routine convoy, her Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb.
[To Stockwell] Do you remember that moment when the IED exploded?
STOCKWELL: I do. I remember most of it.
WOODRUFF: What do you remember?
STOCKWELL: I was sitting behind the driver and we had no doors or anything on hour Humvee and it kind of went under an underpass and the IED went off. Someone yelled IED, IED. We’ve just hit an IED. It wasn’t until I woke up after my initial surgery in Baghdad that I found out that it was gone.
WOODRUFF: So who told you first that you had lost your leg?
STOCKWELL: My husband, actually. He was over there with me and when I got injured my commander got in touch with his commander, who got him to the hospital. And when I woke up in Baghdad the first person I saw was him.
WOODRUFF: Melissa was the first female amputee of the Iraq war.
[To Stockwell] Do you have regrets?
STOCKWELL: No, not at all. When I signed up I knew I was taking a chance and I’m proud of how I lost my leg. I’m proud of it. I was proud to wear the uniform. I still am.
WOODRUFF: And proud of a recovery. Amazingly, just two months after her injury, she was on the ski slopes.
STOCKWELL: I leaned how to sky on one leg and that was the first athletic – anything I had done since I’ve been hurt. Before I knew it, I was just flying down the mountain and I was loving it. That’s when just the whole – the spirit of life, I guess, came back into me. I mean, if I can ski, I can do anything.
WOODRUFF: Growing up, Melissa was a competitive gymnast, rower, diver and skier. She only swam for fun. Now the pool is where she feels most free.
STOCKWELL: I love the sport of swimming.
WOODRUFF: Since the attack, Melissa has conquered the New York City Marathon and a triathlon in San Diego.
[To Stockwell] Is there any sport that you haven’t done since this happened to you?
STOCKWELL: I haven’t rock climbed and I really want to.
WOODRUFF: But first, she wants to earn a medal for her country and she hopes her efforts will motivate other disabled veterans.
STOCKWELL: I’ve done more with one leg than I ever did with two. I mean, I have more of a vision. I have bigger dreams than I ever would have had with two legs. I don’t know. It’s just – I don’t know if things are meant to happen, but I’m very happy.
GIBSON: And so we choose a magnificent young woman, Melissa Stockwell. In order to break that American record in the 400 meter freestyle, she had to shave an amazing 17 seconds off her best time to guarantee her a spot on the team.