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Health and Fitness

Standing Tall

2013 Warrior Games: John Kremer

Navy Feature Photo

Navy Feature Photo

Being a double amputee does not stop one medically retired Sailor from competing for the gold in the 2013 Warrior Games.

Retired Petty Officer 1st Class John Kremer, a former explosive ordnance disposal specialist, will compete for Team Navy during the 2013 Warrior Games at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., May 11-17.

Throughout the seven-day event, wounded, ill and injured servicemembers and veterans from the Army, Marines, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard will compete for the gold in track and field, shooting, swimming, cycling, archery, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.

"I'm excited for the games; we're going to bring home a lot of gold," said Kremer, who will compete in wheelchair basketball and seated volleyball.

Kremer joined the Navy in 2003. In 2010, Kremer, an explosive ordnance disposal specialist assigned with an Army unit, deployed to Kunduz, Afghanistan.

He was clearing a hilltop when he stepped on a landmine and lost his leg. He said he applied a tourniquet to what was left of his left leg and was relieved to see his right leg still attached.

When he got to the hospital in the U.S., Kremer found out he was missing the heel of his right foot. The doctors gave him a 50-percent chance of walking pain free, and they would have to preform bone, muscle and skin grafts to create a new heel. However, there was no guarantee the procedure would work.

"I opted to have my right leg amputated right away so my recovery time was faster," he said. "The toughest part was just realizing I didn't have legs anymore, putting it past me and then getting on with my life."

Kremer's motivation for a quick recovery was for his daughter, who was born 12 days before he got hurt.

"I wanted to beat my daughter to walking," said a chuckling Kremer. "Now when we race, she beats me, so I have to put my running legs on to keep up with her."

Running is just one of the many reasons this two-time Warrior Games competitor participates in adaptive sports.
"Events like the Warrior Games gave me back my competitive spirit. They keep me in shape," said Kremer. "They bring people with the same or similar injuries together, and it can help with your process of recovery mentally and physically."

Kremer encourages people with disabilities to try out or to just get out and participate.

"Just set goals, there's plenty out there you can do. You can overcome anything. I skydive; I snowboard; I can do everything. Just get out there and try something new," he said.

Editor's Note: Check and All Hands Magazine for continuing coverage of the 2013 Warrior Games May 11-17.