FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (AP) — Sgt. 1st Class Greg Robinson has become the first amputee to complete Army air assault school, a course so grueling his prosthetic leg broke twice over the 10 days spent rappelling down ropes, navigating obstacle courses and completing strenuous road marches.
Each year thousands of soldiers are physically and mentally tested at the Fort Campbell school. Instructors said Robinson accomplished everything other participants did and trainers cut him no slack even though he lost part of his right leg on a deployment to Afghanistan in 2006.
When Robinson joined teammates at a brief graduation ceremony Monday at the Sabalauski Air Assault School, others called his success a testament to what can be achieved by amputees.
Robinson was wounded in 2006 during an attack while on a major military operation. But he said his traumatic injury wasn't going to prevent him from meeting some of the Army's toughest standards or finishing his career in the Army.
"It's not my job; it's my lifestyle," said Robinson, who has deployed four times in his 16 years in the military.
The 101st Airborne Division — unlike other airborne units in planes — uses helicopters to quickly drop troops into combat and move equipment on the battlefield.
Each day of the course began with running a couple of miles. Troops were expected to carry a 35-pound ruck sack as they complete their tasks. Though he ran with a noticeable limp, his boot and trousers covered his prosthetic leg and generally made him indistinguishable from the others. He also learned to rappel from a tower and maneuver past obstacles.
Robinson said he decided about six months ago to take on the program, though he had to get a doctor's approval. Now he hopes his accomplishment will encourage other wounded soldiers with their recoveries.
"It's not a disability if you don't let it slow you down," he said.
His instructor, Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Connolly, said there was some concern at one point whether he was going to make it through when a piston in his leg stopped working on the obstacle course.
"He got down and fixed it, reattempted the obstacle and went back on," Connolly said.
Much more and additional photos at the link.