Last Friday I graduated U.S. Army Ranger School, the culmination of ten months’ training here at Fort Benning, Georgia and the last significant step before serving in an infantry unit. This accomplishment seemed beyond my reach until the very moment in which I achieved it. Through the trying times of some of the hardest days in my life, I feared my lungs, legs, mind, or will might be found lacking and fail me. But day after day, on each long march and in the midst of exertion I worried for neither the strength of my ankle joint nor its ability to withstand the rigors of any task set before me. It held through over 50 days of marching anywhere from four to seventeen kilometers under a total load of 280 to 310 pounds during Ranger school, not including Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course’s (IBOLC) marches of up to sixteen miles under similar load. At times my ankle hurt or swelled, but not once did it fail to carry my weight and keep me moving.
Without your surgical skill and care, I could not even dream of my current career as an officer in the infantry or of graduating Ranger school. Thank you for giving me the chance to live as I wish and not, as other doctors did, presuming that I should wish to trade the possible joys of a youth well-spent for a life with a little less pain. Though I doubt your need, if my testimonial might ever help, I would offer it gladly.
I do not exaggerate in the slightest by saying that your surgery changed my life beyond simply allowing me to lead a platoon of American infantrymen. It denied me a lifelong opportunity to make excuses for myself. I fear the man I might be today had I been handed the chance to circumvent many of the challenges of my life by looking to my ankle and telling myself that they were beyond my physical capacity and in fact most doctors had assured me this was simply immutable. Knowing my own affinity for laziness I believe such an attitude would have bled over into my approach to tasks wholly unrelated to my physical fitness. Thank you for denying me of that easy, unfulfilling life.
2LT, IN, U.S. Army