A hit-and-run driver robbed Staff Sgt. Michael Smith of his arm
and nearly his life, but failed to impact his single-minded
Army Staff Sgt. Michael Smith prepares to cycle in the Warrior Games Trials at West Point, N.Y., in June 2014. Smith qualified for cycling, but opted to compete in swimming and track and field at the Warrior Games in Colorado next month. Courtesy photo “My commitment was to staying in
the Army for 20 [years],” Smith said. “There was no way I was going
to be shortchanged due to someone else’s negligence.”
After two years of intense rehabilitation and training at Brooke
Army Medical Center, Smith’s persistence paid off. An
above-the-elbow amputee, Smith met every standard and was approved
earlier this month to return to duty as a career soldier.
“I’m very excited about what the future holds,” the 15-year
veteran said. “With or without my injury, I want my daughter to
know what true commitment looks like.”
Commitment never wavered
In the years since his accident, Smith’s commitment has never
A recruiter in Nashville, Tennessee, at the time, Smith was
riding his motorcycle when a texting driver slammed into him from
behind. He flew over the guardrail and was then hit midair by a
driver coming from the opposite direction.
“I was knocked unconscious on impact, and when I woke up I was
lying on the highway,” Smith recalled. “My boots and helmet had
come off, and my arm was hanging on by the skin inside my jacket
Smith tried to move off the road but was unable. The texting
driver had driven off but the second driver, a Navy corpsman,
rushed over and tended to his wounds until the ambulance arrived.
In the coming months, Smith underwent six surgeries due to
infection, which eventually claimed most of his right arm.
Miraculous turnaround and rehabilitation
Not long afterward, Smith had another brush with death when he
suffered kidney failure. His father drove up from Amarillo, Texas,
he said, and sat by his bedside praying for hours.
“The next couple of days, I made a miraculous turnaround,” Smith
Facing a long rehabilitation and based on a recommendation from
his cousin, who works at Brooke Army Medical Center here, Smith
requested to be assigned to BAMC’s Warrior Transition
A week-and-a-half later, he arrived at the Center for the
Intrepid, BAMC’s outpatient rehabilitation center. Smith’s goal was
to return to active duty, but he knew he was facing an uphill
“I spoke to the CFI staff and they pushed me to do everything,”
he said. “I knew I had to prove I could do just as much if not more
than anyone else.”
Focusing on sports
With this goal in mind, the former high school athlete dove into
every sport possible. He mastered shooting firearms. He ran Spartan
races, Tough Mudders, and half-marathons. Tough Mudders are 10- to
12-mile obstacle courses designed to test strength, stamina and
Smith also went rock climbing, skiing and snowboarding. He swam,
cycled and took part in track and field. He joined soccer,
basketball and kickball leagues.
Earlier this month, Smith nervously appeared before the Physical
Evaluation Board. Yet he felt confident they’d approve his request
to remain in the Army. He was thrilled when they declared him fit
for active duty.
“I’ve been committed to the Army my entire adult life,” he said.
“I feel very blessed that I have the opportunity to continue to
Return to duty, promotion
Smith, who is slated to be promoted to sergeant first class this
week, hopes to resume his prior career in field artillery.
“I just want to be a regular soldier, go to combat if needed,”
he said. “I honestly feel like there’s nothing I can’t do now,
thanks to the support from my family, friends and the staff at the
CFI who were with me every step of the way.”
As he awaits orders, Smith is filling his time with his other
passion: sports. He’s slated to represent the Army in track and
field and swimming at the Warrior Games next month, and continues
to cycle daily in hopes of making the 2016 Paralympic team.
Smith said he believes to this day that he lost his arm for a
“I would like to inspire and motivate others struggling with
mental or physical challenges,” he said. “No one should let their
injury determine who they are or who they want to be.”
Cycle polo? What in the world is cycle polo? That's a thing?
These are questions Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan MacPherson, a
673rd Logistics Readiness Squadron Fuels Management Flight fuels
service center controller, is accustomed to hearing.
A passionate competitor in the sport, MacPherson said he is
happy to explain.
Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan MacPherson jockeys for the ball with Zachari Tate during a cycle polo game last month in Anchorage, Alaska. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Wes Wright However, what the Hoboken, New
Jersey, native sometimes leaves out is the fact he has world-class
talent, as demonstrated by his recent qualification to compete in
the World Hardcourt Bike
Polo Championships in Montpellier, France, this month.
Bike polo is played in more than 30 countries, and it grows in
popularity each year.
MacPherson qualified to compete in the world championship after
competing in the North American Hardcourt regional qualifier in
July. His team was one of the top 16 qualifiers to advance to the
For some people, the word polo might conjure up images of
English gentlemen on horseback wielding oversized clubs -- playing
what looks to be a hybrid version of hockey and golf. That's not
far off the mark, MacPherson said.
However, the game of polo has evolved and taken on many forms
since the late 1800s. One of the more popular iterations of the
sport is known as "hardcourt," typically played on a street hockey
"The best way to describe it is three-on-three hockey,"
MacPherson said. "You put the ball in the middle, somebody counts
down, and one person from each team sprints [to the ball] in what's
called a joust, and after that, you try to put the ball in the
Read more here.
U.S. air operations in Iraq reflect a commitment to relieving
the humanitarian issue in northern Iraq’s Kurdistan region and to
protecting American personnel, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear
Adm. John Kirby said today.
Kirby discussed the situation in Iraq with Chris Cuomo on the
CNN program “New Day.” The admiral is in New Delhi with Defense
Secretary Chuck Hagel.
Two U.S. F/A-18 aircraft dropped 500-pound laser-guided bombs on
a mobile artillery piece near the regional capital of Irbil today.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant was using this artillery
to shell Kurdish forces defending Erbil where U.S. personnel are
located, Kirby said in a statement earlier today. Yesterday, U.S.
aircraft dropped food and water to thousands of people seeking
refuge on Mount Sinjar to escape ISIL fighters.
Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby “We’re committed to two things,” Kirby
told Cuomo. “One is trying to relieve the humanitarian issue there
on Mount Sinjar, and of course being prepared and ready to conduct
airstrikes to protect American personnel … in Irbil and potentially
even in and around Baghdad.”
The airstrikes also will try to help Iraqi security forces, the
admiral added, “as they go after the ISIL threat inside their
country, to their people [and] to their sovereignty. Ultimately,
this is an Iraqi fight.”
Throughout the country, Kirby said, the fight is not
On the humanitarian emergency for the Yezidis on Mount Sinjar,
the problem is one for the international community to help in
solving, the admiral said. “The international community has …
responded with some humanitarian assistance, the government of Iraq
provided some humanitarian assistance, [and] we're chipping in to
that effort as well,” he added.
Kirby said President Barack Obama was clear in his remarks last
night that the world must attend to the behavior of the ISIL
“These ISIL terrorists are simply brutes,” the admiral said.
“They're thugs. They're murderers. They have no regard for human
life or human dignity. And it's not just Christians or the Yezidis
“We do believe they pose a threat not just to Iraq, but to the
region, and they do have aspirational desires to threaten western
targets, to include the United States and American citizens,” he
continued. “There's no question about that. … And our focus is
helping the Iraqis deal with this threat inside their country and
in the broader region.”
The U.S. military focus on the region has intensified over many
weeks, he said, with an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf,
increased intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activity
over Iraq, assessment teams on the ground, advisors working in
joint operation centers in Baghdad and Irbil, and now conducting
“The United States is not just standing by idly,” Kirby said.
“We are working very hard on this. There is a sense of purpose and
urgency here. But … this is ultimately an issue the Iraqi
government has got to come to grips with and solve, and the Iraqi
security forces have got to continue to step up against this
Nov. 4 is Election Day and it’s approaching quickly. No matter
where you are stationed, registering to vote and getting your
absentee ballot is easy.
Use the State Guidelines Interactive Map here, or
visit FVAP.gov, to find out how to register and get your absentee
ballot. Select your state or territory of legal residence on the
map to get started. Most importantly, you must print the form, sign
it, and send it to your state according to your state’s rules.
Online registration is not allowed.
Those who chose to vote will not have to figure out the process
alone – more than 13,000 unit voting assistance officers are on the
job throughout the military. Unit voting assistance officers are
located in every unit, both stateside and overseas, according to
FVAP director Matt Boehmer.
Statement from Army Chief of Staff General Ray
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Maj. Gen. Harold J.
Greene's family, and the families of our soldiers who were injured
today in the tragic events that took place in Afghanistan. These
soldiers were professionals, committed to the mission. It is their
service and sacrifice that define us as an
Our priority right now is to take care of the families, ensuring
they have all the resources they need during this critical
We remain committed to our mission in Afghanistan and will
continue to work with our Afghan partners to ensure the safety and
security of all coalition soldiers and civilians."