In previous wars, many severely wounded soldiers died on the battlefield. Amputees who made it home were automatically retired. Now advances in medicine mean more amputees are surviving, and today's high-tech replacement limbs let them lead active lives—something soldiers like Metzdorf aim to do in uniform. George W. Bush buoyed their hopes when he visited Walter Reed in late 2003. "Today, if wounded service members want to remain in uniform and can do the job," Bush said, "the military tries to help them stay."
A small core of determined vets is taking the president at his word. So far, fewer than a dozen have been declared "fit for duty," and many more are training for their comebacks. Top Pentagon officials were at first reluctant. But after hearing personal pleas from wounded vets—and seeing the soldiers' astonishing recoveries firsthand—they reconsidered. The first Marine amputee found fit for duty has just returned from seven months in Iraq. "We realize that a soldier's strong mental and emotional outlook can more than compensate for a changed body," says Lt. Gen. Franklin Hagenbeck, the Army's deputy chief of staff for personnel.
Some wounded soldiers are willing to do almost anything to get back into uniform. After Senior Airman Anthony Pizzifred, 20, lost his leg just above the ankle in Afghanistan last March, surgeons told him that the best prosthetic leg—one that would allow him to walk, run and wade in the ocean—was designed for those with more severe amputations. Pizzifred wanted maximum mobility as fast as possible. So he told his doctors to take off as much as they needed. They wheeled him back into the operating room and cut off his leg almost to the knee.
Amazing. It's almost starship troppersish. The heart that these soldiers have shown is greater than my ability to express. The idea that someone would actually choose to have more of their leg sawed off to recover faster so he could enter the crapstorm that got it blown off in the first place....what can you say. I wonder why you don't see more stories describing this in teh news. I mean, it's an unbelievable sort of tale and that there are multiple individuals willing to do this...it should be a banner headline. Even in the ranks of heroes there are some who go above and beyond and these people deserve every single bit of respect and notoriety they can get.