Wounded Warrior doesn't let injuries slow him - New York News

FOX Medical Team

Wounded Warrior doesn't let injuries slow him

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BUFORD, Ga. -

Hundreds of American troops have lost a leg or arm in Afghanistan because of improvised explosive devices or homemade bombs.
 
It was 29-year-old John Kremer's job to find those hidden bombs, and safely destroy them. That's what the Buford man was trying to do when one of them exploded right under his feet.

Kremer had a wife  and a brand new baby. They were all he could think about as they wrapped tourniquets around his legs.

Kremer's life changed that day on a hillside in northern Afghanistan, but it didn't end. He just had to find a new way of living.

When you think of double-amputees, you probably don't think about a guy throwing himself out of a plane at 13,000 feet. But that's how Kremer chooses to live his life -- flying by the seat of his pants, not worrying about what's below or how he's going to land on two prosthetic legs.

Growing up on the Washington coast, he watched Navy guys parachuting.

"And I was like, ‘Man, I want to do that when I grow up,'" Kremer said.

So, he did, becoming an Navy bomb technician and a petty officer first class.

"For me, it was a little kid's dream job, you get to roll around in the mud, you get to skydive, you get to dive and do a bunch of stuff.  You also get to blow stuff up," Kremer said.

He pulled four tours in Iraq and then Afghanistan.

In September of 2010, he was sent out to clear a hill of landmines for the Army's 10th Mountain Division when it happened.

"I was sweeping it with a metal detector and I stepped on a landmine," Kremer said. "I was conscious the whole time: I remember stepping on it, I remember hitting the ground. I remember getting back to the hospital."

He was airlifted home to Bethesda Naval Hospital, where his wife and baby, Adalyn Olivia Kramer, born 12 days earlier, met him.

"Holding my daughter, she was wrapped up, and then I had like this gown wrapped around her and I had gloves and big gown on," said Kremer said. "It wasn't the way I expected it, but it was great, it was probably the highlight of my life."

Kremer faced a tough road.  His right leg was so damaged that he chose to have it amputated. The day he got the stitches out, he began intense physical therapy.  He slowly learned to stand, and then walk, on his new legs.

"It was different, I guess my first couple of steps I equated to walking on stilts," Kremer said. "But it was a great feeling for me, just to be up and out of my wheelchair."

As soon as he could, Kremer began agility training, learning to ski, run, and shoot.

He marked the one year anniversary of his injury by running in a 10K road race. He just competed in his second Warrior Games for combat veterans.

He wants to show Adalyn that her father is not afraid to let go and live a new life on his terms.

Kremer won Team Navy's first gold medal in the air rifle competition of the 2013 Warrior Games. He's now left the Navy and is looking for his next big adventure. And enjoying watching Adalyn grow up.

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