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"As long as you're breathing, life is worth living."
October 13, 2012 10:24 PM   Subscribe

Six years ago, US Army Captain Ivan Castro was severely wounded in a mortar attack in Iraq that left him permanently and completely blinded. Today, he's one of only three blind active duty Army officers, and the very first to serve in the US Army Special Forces. Thirteen months and 36 surgeries after the attack, Castro ran the 2007 Marine Corps Marathon in 4:14 and the Army Ten Miler in 1:25. And he's still going: In the last 15 months, he's completed 14 marathons. Why? "Because I still can. Because people need to see what's possible."

As of June, 2011, Captain Castro had completed "an astounding 18 marathons, 11 half marathons, four Army 10-milers, two 50-mile ultra marathons, two triathlons and an ascent to Grays Peak, one of the highest mountains in Colorado."

"...he has met with members of Congress to advocate for wounded veterans' participation in the Paralympics, spoken at military and civilian events to encourage employers to hire the blind, and counseled disabled soldiers. When he visits injured veterans, his message is simple: As long as you're breathing, life is worth living." (Additional photos.)

* CNN: True Champion: Blind Army Hero runs marathon
* CNN Money: A Soldier's Story: Financial Rehab Accompanying Photos / Audio Commentary.
* Photoessay and Article from FoxNewschannel
* Profile in the National Review: Captain Extraordinary
posted by zarq (17 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
For those of you who are curious, he runs with a partner, connected by string.

Castro trained for his two races with Maj. Phil Young, who was Castro’s team leader in the Special Forces.

Castro runs tethered to Young using two white shoelaces tied together. Young calls “audibles” as they move, warning Castro of possible hazards. But most of the guiding is done with the string, the men said.

“He was trained [in the Special Forces] to improvise, adapt and overcome,” his wife, Evelyn Galvis, said. “That’s what he’s done, and what he’s going to keep doing.”

posted by hobo gitano de queretaro at 10:45 PM on October 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hooah! Captain.

Way to hang.

Thanks for that, zarq.
posted by mule98J at 10:54 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Go Army.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:02 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are blind / visually-impaired runners in every large race. This is unremarkable. Overcoming his other injuries to endure this punishing race schedule on the other hand is just wow.
posted by three blind mice at 11:12 PM on October 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Autoplay audio on the first link there, argh.

Awesome story though!
posted by Xany at 11:17 PM on October 13, 2012


Bravo sir. Way to overcome adversity.
posted by arcticseal at 11:27 PM on October 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Should also check out Brad Snyder who lost his sight due to an IED and won a gold in the Paralympics. A test we probably will never pass but he did.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:42 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Because people need to see what's possible.

I see what you did there.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:52 PM on October 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


And I'm no longer going to be whiny about my 15 miler today.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:25 AM on October 14, 2012


His achievement is awesome.

It's a shame he is using it to recruit new soldiers for the seemingly never-ending wars of choice.
posted by srboisvert at 7:00 AM on October 14, 2012


"Ivan Castro." What, is his middle name Ho Chi Minh?
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:57 AM on October 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's a shame he is using it to recruit new soldiers for the seemingly never-ending wars of choice.

I didn't see anything in the linked articles that said he's recruiting anyone. Unless you mean passively, as an example to others? Did I miss something?
posted by zarq at 8:37 AM on October 14, 2012


I once saw one of the three active duty blind officers mentioned in the FPP working out in the gym. I didn't know who he was at first but I did notice that the guy he was working out with was holding onto his arm as they worked out. I thought it was a little strange but didn't even consider that he was blind because he was doing a Crossfit workout, with cleans and pull ups and the like. It wasn't until I got back to the barracks and asked my roommate about it that he told me that the guy was CPT Scott Smiley, the first blind officer to take a company command.

It's the type of thing that makes me ask myself, "Why didn't you work out today? What was your excuse, again?"
posted by A Bad Catholic at 9:34 AM on October 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have a coworker who is a 67 year-old West Point graduate and Army ranger, a Vietnam veteran. Since getting a hip replacement a few years ago he has to walk marathons now, as he did last week (7 hours). It was his 84th marathon; he has completed over 200 half-marathons. Also, he has climbed Mt Shasta and Mt Rainier since the hip replacement.
posted by neuron at 10:08 AM on October 14, 2012


I didn't see anything in the linked articles that said he's recruiting anyone. Unless you mean passively, as an example to others? Did I miss something?

From the first link:

Castro said that Army officials were willing to work with him to find a job where his skills could be put to use, and they found it: He now works in Special Operations Recruiting Battalion and he mentors soldiers who have been injured in combat, particularly those with eye injuries. He said he still wears the uniform, just like everyone else, and is still expected to meet the same standards as other soldiers.
posted by srboisvert at 11:03 AM on October 14, 2012


Special Operations Recruiting Battalion recruits existing personnel for Special Forces. USAREC are the people who recruit civilians.
posted by vorfeed at 1:53 PM on October 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Exactly. Thanks for the clarification, vorfeed.

The reason I asked, srboisvert, is the quote from his CO in the FoxNews article: "The only reason that anyone serves with 7th Special Forces Group is if they have real talents," said Col. Sean Mulholland. "We don't treat [Castro] as a public affairs or a recruiting tool."
posted by zarq at 4:13 PM on October 14, 2012


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