Sgt. First Class Joe Kapacziewski is the first and only amputee in Army Rangers’ history to return to combat, and he did it a stunning five times.
In October 2005, in the midst of his fifth combat tour in Iraq or Afghanistan and just days before he was scheduled to return to the States, his leg was injured by a grenade during an ambush in Northern Iraq. Over the next couple years, he underwent nearly 40 surgeries as Army doctors tried to save his leg.
Eventually, Sgt. Kapacziewski says he realized his badly injured leg wouldn’t allow him to have the active lifestyle he wanted and needed. He underwent an amputation below the knee on his right leg and began the recovery and rehab process.
He explains the grueling physical fitness tests he had to pass to prove he was capable of re-entering the Army Ranger program before returning to combat. And he passed with flying colors. He has since returned to combat five times with his prosthetic leg, and completed three triathlons and two New York City Marathons.
Last year, Sgt. Kapacziewski became the first enlisted soldier to receive the No Greater Sacrifice Freedom Award, given to the individual who epitomizes selfless service to the nation.
He’s also a highly decorated soldier, including the Bronze Star Medal with “V” device, three Purple Hearts, two Army Commendation Medal with “V” device and the Army Achievement Medal.
Sgt. Kapacziewski talks about his new “Back in the Fight,” and reveals the terrifying night his prosthetic came loose during combat.
He’s now served his last tour in combat. He explains what’s next in his military career and what it means to serve our nation.