Wounded warrior goes water skiing | VailDaily.com

Wounded warrior goes water skiing

Kate Martin
Loveland Reporter-Herald
Vail, CO Colorado
Jenny Sparks, AP Photo/Loveland Reporter-HeraldChris Hahn, a former combat Marine, sits in the front yard of his Loveland, home, had his leg amputated after the 7-ton military vehicle he was riding on crashed during a routine mission in Iraq.

LOVELAND ” Chris Hahn wears his heart on his sleeve.

His love of God and country is obvious to anyone who sees the many tattoos that cover his arms. Sometimes people stop and stare. At first he thought they stared at his tattoos.

But then he remembers the prosthesis he wears on his left leg, and the sacrifice he made more than a year ago.

On Jan. 30, 2006, during a routine mission in Iraq, the 7-ton military vehicle Hahn was riding on tumbled after the driver took a corner on a soft shoulder. The vehicle rolled over and shattered the Marine’s left foot.

Doctors fought to save it, but two months later, they amputated his foot and lower leg. Doctors say Hahn, 22, could regain 90 percent of his pre-accident activity.

To recover, Hahn rides his bicycle near Boyd Lake with his new wife, Rachel Hahn, 23. He said he can’t sprint. Not yet.

“It’s getting there,” he said.

But to recover, Hahn had to first rebuild his confidence in his body, his new prosthesis and himself.

The Wounded Warrior Project was with Hahn as soon as he settled into his room at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. The project, funded entirely by donations, is dedicated to serving injured troops as they return home and helping them transition back into civilian life.

Many times, the injured have nothing when they return to a stateside hospital, not even a spare pair of underwear, said Hahn.

The project takes Hahn and hundreds of wounded soldiers on trips around the country to help them learn and relearn water skiing, snow skiing, kayaking and rock climbing.

Hahn was skeptical on his first weeklong water skiing trip in New York.

“I’m on one leg. I don’t think this is going to work,” he thought.

“But I did it,” said Hahn, “and that’s a huge accomplishment, water skiing on one leg, especially since I’d never water skied in my life before.”

The Wounded Warrior Project shows injured service members that they are the same as they were before, Hahn said.

“It’s a huge confidence builder and it really helps a lot of us, not only with coping but feeling a part of something,” he said.

The project meant so much to Hahn that, when representatives of the organization asked if they could feature him on its Web page, he immediately accepted. Hahn is one of 16 men and women featured on the Wounded Warrior Project’s Web site.

Hahn said he hopes he can get back into playing baseball again. A former pitcher for Loveland’s Mountain View High School, he said he also wants to coach Little League Baseball.

“Hopefully, next summer I’ll get to do that,” he said.

Wounded Warrior Project: http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org

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