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    Spirituality keeps Soldier motivated for DOD Warrior Games



    Story by Shannon Collins    

    Joint Hometown News Service

    FORT MEADE, Md. -- A former 82nd Airborne infantryman said his life changed during a mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

    "I made a deal with God to spare me," said Timothy Payne, a medically-retired staff sergeant, who served for 11 years. "I said, 'Why don't you just take my legs instead of taking my life?' And the next day, I got blown up, died and came back. Now I'm just trying to stay motivated and be an inspiration to other Soldiers."

    Payne stepped on a 25- to 35-pound improvised explosive device that was either pressure plated or command detonated and lost both of his legs, above the knees. He lost some fingers and a portion of his left arm and had to learn to become right-handed. He had more than 100 surgeries and received more than 100 units of blood.

    As he was recovering from his injury, he also dealt with a death in the family, his brother-in-law. He said it was during this dark time that he found his faith.

    "I was suffering from depression. I was suicidal. I had all these different issues and kept it all to myself," Payne said, adding that is when he decided to read the Bible and asked for his pain to be taken away. "And now I'm just staying positive, motivated and clear-minded. You have to cleanse the body, cleanse the mind and strengthen the spirit. I just try to push on, stay motivated and share my story with other people."

    He said his faith also helped him become more resilient. When he joined the Army after Sept. 11, 2001, he wanted to become an Army Ranger.

    "After 9/11, I wanted to work with the best to get to the head of the snake to kill terrorism at the heart. I wanted to get the bad dudes," said Payne, who had done two tours in Iraq before his tour in Afghanistan.

    "Before I got hurt, I was so focused on training for Special Operations that I tried out twice, but got injured and selected for a different job," he said. "I just wanted to work with the best to get the bad guys, but after I got blown up, I just changed. God took my trigger finger away too. He wants me to help save lives and live in peace. I would never have found Jesus unless I had lost my legs because I was so focused on the mission at hand, destroying the enemy and protecting our country. That all changed, and it's a blessing. I just do what I can now for others, and I just keep on going."

    Payne also turned to sports to stay active. He participated in the Chicago Marathon, New York City Marathon, L.A. Marathon and the Boston Marathon with the help of the Achilles Freedom Team and scuba dives through the Soldiers Undergoing Disabled Scuba Diving, or S.U.D.S., program.

    "I try to swim a mile or two every day," he said. "When I got hurt, the doctors preached mind, body and spirit. If I keep my body strong and active and just keep going, then it's going to help strengthen my mind. It also keeps my mind occupied too so I don't dwell on bad things. With all these different sporting events, you're focused on training; you're building your muscles up, and you're just staying motivated and positive. It's the best thing for me. I don't want to just sit around and waste time. I just always want to be out and doing something and interacting with others, sharing my story."

    During the Army Trials, Payne won a bronze medal in the 50-meter breast stroke.

    "He probably had the most 'ah hah' moment of all the swimmers," said Glen O'Sullivan, Army team swim coach. "He had done some swimming prior to the camp, but wasn't prepared to use his entire body in swimming. He gave me some looks when I told him to kick. We developed a kick for him to practice. It was awesome to see him get a medal."

    At the Army Trials, Payne motivated and inspired his fellow athletes.

    "He was a great mentor to me," said Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Hawkins, Fort Leonard Wood Warrior Transition Unit. "When I became injured multiple times, he inspired me to keep my head up in times of hard situations. Just seeing how he overcame so many difficult situations in his life and remained a positive, focused individual, I can truly say he will always be an inspiration in my life."

    Payne will compete for the Army team in seated discus and swimming events during the 2015 Department of Defense's Warrior Games on Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, June 19-28. Wounded, ill and injured Service members and veterans from the Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard will compete with athletes from Special Operations Command, and a team from the British military. They will compete in track and field, shooting, swimming, cycling, archery, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball events.


    Date Taken: 04.27.2015
    Date Posted: 05.13.2015 14:57
    Story ID: 163182
    Location: FORT BLISS, TEXAS, US

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