Matt Lammers lost both of his legs and his left arm when his HUMV struck an IED in 2007. He was almost back at his base when the explosion took him.
“I picked up my left hand. It was shredded pretty much all the way down to my elbow. I put it aside thinking that can’t be my hand,” Matt told KGUN9-TV.
The nearby medics rushed Matt to a field hospital, where doctors performed the triple amputation. Matt heard one of the doctors telling his team that he didn’t have much time to live.
“I remember opening my eyes, ‘With all due respect, Sir, are you talking about me?’ He just kind of said, ‘Oh, didn’t realize you were conscious.'” Matt recalled.
Since he had already lost so much blood, doctors couldn’t administer morphine. They gave him a rag to bite on and went to work.
When Matt came back home, he had a hard time adjusting to his new life. “There was a time in my life I just didn’t want to go out and be seen in public,” he said.
“Self-pity would be the best way in hindsight to describe it. Just a lot of personal fears I had, I had to overcome.”
That was until he met his future wife, Alecia. She worked as a night manager at a local store, so she was able to see Matt when he was comfortable leaving the house.
“So we just started dating after that,” he said, as if it were the most straightforward thing in the world. “It’s been beautiful ever since.”
Alecia helped get Matt out of his shell and set him on his path to his new life: a true competitor. Matt started swimming and even entered the Warrior Games competition — an event where veterans compete through their injuries.
At first he was nervous and hesitant, but his wife saw in him what he couldn’t see in himself, and encouraged him to keep trying. Their bond is clear in the way they speak to and about one another, and even a reporter referred to them as a “power couple.”
“Watching him compete…I still have goosebumps,” Alecia Lammers told KGUN9-TV. “It was amazing. It was so rewarding. So many hours in the pool paid off, right there.”
“It would take me about five hours to swim about three miles when I first started,” Matt said. Eventually, he got faster — even taking home a bronze and three golds in his first competition.
The survivor regularly swims all but two days a week, going three to four miles at a time. It’s keeping him healthy, both in mind and body.
Now, Matt has his eyes set on the future. He hopes to compete in the Invictus Games and the Paralympics.
“Never give up. Never quit,” Matt said. “There’s always a brighter day, in my own experience, Sir.”
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