Amputee Soldier to Return to Iraq Duty

In June 2003, Army Capt. David Rozelle lost his right foot in a land mine explosion in Iraq.

After intensive physical therapy, watching the birth of his son and even participating in the New York City Marathon, Rozelle is returning to the war zone as commander of an armored cavalry troop. He'll be the first amputee in recent military history to return to the battlefield where he was injured.

Rozelle, 31, tells his inspiring story in a book, "Back in Action," released on Feb. 14. He says it was his soldier's sense of duty that inspired him to return to Iraq.

"It's hard to explain the sense of duty that a U.S. soldier has," Rozelle told "Good Morning America." "But, you know, we're committed to something great over there. And my soldiers are again returning to Iraq with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. And I feel like I need to be there, too."

More Prepared

Rozelle, whose right leg now ends two inches above the ankle, is fitted with a prosthetic foot, which fits in a standard-issue combat boot.

Despite the injury and the grueling physical rehabilitation he endured, Rozelle knows that he doesn't have it as hard as some others soldiers who have lost limbs, sometimes more than one.

At least 4,400 military men and women have been wounded in action since the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The military believes a significant percentage of them will be able to return to duty at some point.

Though Rozelle admits to being nervous about returning, watching the commitment of other soldiers and the bravery of the Iraqi people who voted in the election last month has convinced him he still has work to do there.

"You can read about [war] and watch movies, but nothing prepares you for the uncertainty of what's ahead," said Rozelle. "This time, I guess I'm more mature in the sense I understand what's ahead and I'm better able to prepare myself for it."

Bringing It Full Circle

In his book, Rozelle has written about coping with a disability -- the fear, the anger, the boredom and the victories, both large and small.

"It's been a roller coaster ride for the last eight months," he said. "The first month was just sort of celebrating being alive, and then there was a transition period where I wasn't sure what I was going to do with my life and what was going to happen next."

It was Rozelle's injury that allowed him to be present for the birth of his son, Forrest, in August.

"Otherwise, I would have met him at nine months of age," he said. "Everything has a silver lining."

It was his son and his wife, Kim, who kept him motivated throughout his recovery, said Rozelle. And in spite of the dangers he'll face again, his wife is supporting his decision to return to Iraq.

When Rozelle returns from duty for the second time, he plans to continue working with other amputee soldiers, inspiring them both mentally and physically to get "back in action" -- whether it is to return to life in the military or a readaptation to civilian life.

"That's part of the reason to go back to Iraq," he said. "It brings things full circle."

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 517012.
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Chris Soules and Whitney Bischoff are seen at ABC Studios for Good Morning America on March 10, 2015 in New York.
Josiah Kamau/BuzzFoto/Getty Images
PHOTO: Former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner arrives at the Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald and BGC Partners, in New York, Sept. 11, 2013.
Mark Von Holden/Invision/AP Photo
PHOTO: The Lamborghini SpA Urus sport-utility concept vehicle is unveiled during a Volkswagen AG event in Beijing, April 22, 2012.
Nelson Ching/Bloomberg/Getty Images
PHOTO: Researchers say that this skull, which shows two fractures believed to be created by blunt force trauma, is the earliest evidence of murder in human history.
Sala N/Arsuaga JL/Pantoja-Perez A/Pablos A/MartiĀ­nez I/Quam RM