Iraq war veteran and amputee also an athlete

January 25, 2009 7:08:40 AM PST
At the age of 28, Melissa Stockwell has made a name for herself. She was the first U.S. female amputee in Iraq, and she was also the first Iraq vet to qualify for the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing.But this is just the beginning.

In the spring of 2004, three weeks after being deployed, Army 1st Lt. Melissa Stockwell lost her leg when her Humvee was hit by roadside bomb in Baghdad.

However, Stockwell says she has never regretted serving her country.

"I would go back and do it again. I'm so proud to say I've worn our uniform," she told ABC7 Chicago.

Life in the military was always the young woman's dream.

"Growing up, I loved the American flag. It was all over my room and my bedspread and my wallet, and when I learned that being in the Army and wearing the uniform represented the colors and the freedoms that we have, I knew immediately that's what I wanted to do," she said.

When Stockwell returned to the states, she found a new career: making prosthetics.

"You get to fit patients with legs, and you get to see them take their first steps again. So, at the time, I looked over and thought, you knowm, I think this is something I might want to do," she said.

After graduating from school, Melissa Stockwell went to Chicago's Scheck and Siress, where she met David Rotter.

" We were introduced because she wanted to do her residency here, and being an active amputee, she came to me," said Rotter.

"We've made walking legs. We've made running legs. We have biking legs. We have swimming legs, and the list will continue, just depending on what Melissa wants to do," said Rotter.

The most inspiring prosthetic is one with the American flag.

"She really, really loves to have prosthesis adorned with anything related to the American theme, and it's a wonderful thing," said Rotter.

In addition to finding another career, Melissa started swimming.

"Because it was really easy to get into the pool. I didn't have to wear a prosthetic leg," she said. "Then, I learned about the Paralympics, and I knew immediately it was something I wanted to do to, wear the USA uniform and represent the U.S. again," said Stockwell.

Although she didn't win any medal at the Paralympics, Stockwell will continue making a name for herself as an athlete.

"When I first came back from Beijing, I wasn't sure if I was going to try for 2012 in London, but I've decided that, definitely, I'm going to give it a shot," she said.

Melissa Stockwell also works for some veterans organization and is a motivational speaker.

David Rotter will continue to make prosthetics for Melissa's activities.


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