On Valentine’s Day 2003, Captain David Rozelle had to tell his pregnant wife, Kim, that he was being deployed to Iraq. Four months later, a land mine took his right foot.
Since then, Rozelle, who has earned a Purple Heart, now runs marathons and skis with a prosthetic leg. About a year after he lost his foot, he was declared “fit for duty” and returned to command. His next stop was back to Iraq. He spends time trying to inspire his wounded brothers–life goes on after amputation. About one visit to the amputee ward at Walter Reed Medical Center, he writes, “I tried to set an example and offer hope. That is what these guys needed most.”
Captain Rozelle tells his story in the new book Back in Action: The Inspiring True Story of the First Amputee to Return to Active Command in Iraq. He answered a few questions from NRO editor Kathryn Lopez late last week.
National Review Online: You were specifically targeted, and were warned in advance, weren’t you? Why did you go out on that mission anyway in June 2003?
Captain David Rozelle: Although I was targeted, I was not afraid. I knew that many men were trying to kill me so going on my daily missions was no different.
NRO: You spent some time at Walter Reed. What do the guys there have in common?
Captain Rozelle: Walter Reed has sort of turned into a fraternity. Guys are living together and going through some demanding rehab. They are already brothers in arms, and now they are brothers without arms or legs.
NRO: You’ve done triathlons and the New York City marathon post-amputation. What are you trying to prove?
Captain Rozelle: I am not trying to prove anything. I just enjoy challenging myself. Some people like to do drugs to feel high, but I love competition because I feel like a champion.
NRO: You’ve done your service, man, why would you ever want to go back?
Captain Rozelle: It is my duty. By accepting command, I knew that I would eventually return to Iraq. I am smarter, stronger, and more ready to help create freedom for the Iraqi people.
NRO: Deployment is hard on a marriage–as it is on your whole family. And for you as a young father. Why is it worth it nonetheless?
Captain Rozelle: I am a warrior. It is a mindset that allows you to leave your family. Those that are afraid to leave their family to accomplish something great will never achieve anything.
NRO: If Americans could know only one thing about why we are in Iraq, what would you want that to be?
Captain Rozelle: Freedom. You don’t know what it is until you lose it. We are giving it back for the first time in most of their lives.
NRO: If there was only one thing Americans could know about the enemy, what would you like it to be?
Captain Rozelle: They are cowards that hide behind women and children. We will destroy them.