News: Wounded Body Warrior Spirit (Cpl. Anthony McDaniel)
Story by Lance Cpl. Chelsea Anderson
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Wounded Body Warrior Spirit is a profile series originally appearing on the Marines Blog (marines.dodlive.mil). With more than 300 Wounded Warriors competing for a spot on the All-Marine Team at the Warrior Games in May, Lance Cpl. Chelsea Flowers is highlighting some of those individual stories.
Cpl. Anthony McDaniel sits sprawled on the grass in a pair of red sweatpants and Air Jordans. His smile is genuine and his laugh contagious as he quotes comedian Kevin Hart with one of his track coaches. At first glance, McDaniel looks like any other carefree young man his age. But underneath the sweatpants and sneakers lie two prosthetic legs and his left arm is amputated just before the wrist; but in his eyes lie the determination and drive that pushed him to be more than just an injured Marine. McDaniel is a Wounded Warrior.
Aug. 31, 2010, McDaniel set out on a route clearance patrol as an artilleryman in Kajaki, Afghanistan. While on the patrol, McDaniel identified an improvised explosive device, but before he could notify his squad, it detonated. Four days later, McDaniel gained consciousness in Germany missing his legs and a hand. For many, this would mark the end of an active life, but for McDaniel, it was only the beginning.
More than a year later, McDaniel, from Pascagoula, Miss., is joining more than 300 other wounded Marines, veterans and allies to compete in the 2012 Marine Corps Trials at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. McDaniel will be competing in wheel-chair basketball and trying hand-biking for the first time. McDaniel took some time out of his busy training schedule to share a little bit about what defines him as a person.
Q: What motivated you to push yourself physically to compete?
A: The people who are around me on a daily basis helped me get out of my shell, that isolation and try new things. You go out and try it and you like it, so you stick with it.
Q: How was hand-biking for the first time?
A: It wasn’t too difficult. The hardest thing is not leaning back or you’ll fall back. Then you’ll look kind of crazy trying to push yourself back up.
Q: You brought your new running-specific prostheses, but decided to do hand-biking instead. Why did you make that decision?
A: I figure that wheel-chair racing fits me better than those actual legs right now. But it’s just like everything – it just takes getting used to. I’ll continue to work on them.
Q: How difficult is it to walk with your prosthetic legs?
A: Balance is the main thing with prosthetics – and your core. If you have a weak core, it’s going to be really hard to walk.
Q: Which competition in the 2012 Marine Corps Trials are you most serious about?
A: Wheel-chair basketball is my main thing. My goal is to make the Paralympic team for wheel-chair basketball.
Q: Do you think of yourself as ‘wounded’?
A: No, not really. I might have a left wrist amputation and a bilateral amputation, but it’s still not going to stop me from doing what I want to do. You don’t look at yourself as wounded or disabled, but at the things you can do.
Q: What advice would you give to other wounded Marines and service members?
A: Just because you got injured, your life doesn’t have to stop. You may not be able to do the exact things you used to, but you can do similar things, and have a lot of fun doing it. As long as you don’t want to stop yourself, you can do whatever you want to do.
Q: How has it been getting to know other Wounded Warriors?
A: Marines stick together, but with Wounded Warriors, it’s a real knit bond. We share the same situations and circumstances. You can’t really explain it. It’s something special.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
A: By the end of the year, I’ll be moving to Florida and going to college to get my accounting degree. Eventually, I want to open my own car wash in Florida. But physically, I’ll still be doing wheelchair basketball and hope to get my own track bike so I’ll be able to ride around with my son when he learns how to ride a bike one day.