When war cost Marine Sgt. Ricardo Ramirez his left hand in Fallujah, Iraq, he came home, regrouped and went back into battle.
Ramirez’ 3/5 Marine Regiment, known as Dark Horse Battalion, saw more than their fair share of fighting, troop losses and injuries on that campaign.
And when a “flash bang” grenade went off prematurely and severed the platoon sergeant’s dominant hand, he did what most couldn't do; he re-enlisted as the first hand-amputee to get back in the fight.
Life’s simple chores became a challenge for the Marine but he successfully learned to be a right-handed eater, writer, and eventually, a sharpshooter.
Completing the Marines’ physical training requirements was the first and biggest test for Ramirez to stay active. Although there were several demanding components to pass, he was only required to do three pull-ups.
“Little did they know I had been practicing and getting stronger. I had to tape my left hand to the bar because I did not have a prosthetic limb at the time and ended up performing 17 pull-ups.”
There was another part of PT that posed a particular challenge for the former squad leader; getting a grip on the obstacle course rope with his prosthetic limb. The solution? Remove the prosthesis and start the entire course over again; to completion, with one hand.
After a final combat deployment, and proving to be an inspiration to all those who deployed alongside of him, Sgt. Ricardo Ramirez is saying goodbye to the Marine Corps and the Continental United States. He will return to his home of Quebradillas, Puerto Rico.
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