23 October 2009

"It all comes down to the Soldier creed. I will never quit."

Staff Sgt. Luis Elias has no problem with his push-ups. He also finished the Ironman run, 13.1 miles in just over two hours. Photo Credit: Charmain Z. Brackett.

Drill Sergeant determined to return Army Strong

A freak accident may have cost Staff Sgt. Luis Elias his hand, but it hasn't stripped him of his positive attitude or impacted his plans for the future.

"Hopefully, in about a month or so, I'll be back to being a drill sergeant," said Elias, who is currently receiving treatment at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center Active Duty Rehabilitation Unit.

On June 30, Elias was training his new Soldiers at Fort Benning, Ga. when a grenade simulator exploded in his right hand leaving just his thumb. Surgeons at Dwight David Eisenhower Army Medical Center amputated the hand.

Since then, Elias has been in physical therapy learning to use a prosthetic hand and preparing for his return to active duty. A bionic hand called the ilimb is on its way, and once Elias has learned to use it, he will be back training young Soldiers.

He's hoping to go back to duty in November, but his physicians have not given him a specific date.

"It all comes down to the Soldier creed. I will never quit. I take those words to heart," said Elias, who credits his wife, Claudia, and four year-old son, Noah, with providing him the extra strength and support he has needed.

Keeping in good physical shape is an important part of the readiness to return to duty. He can do push-ups with one prosthetic device.

Also, on Sunday, Sept. 27, he competed in the running portion of the ESI Ironman 70.3 Triathlon in Augusta, finishing his 13.1 miles in two hours and five minutes. He did not compete in the swim or the bicycle portion of the race because he did not have a recreational prosthetic, he said.

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