Neil Duncan: Army. 173rd Airborne Infantry. Deployed 2003 to Iraq and 2005 to Afghanistan.
Birthday: November 3, 1983
Interests: Mountain climbing, Sailing, Thrill-seeking
“Opportunities abound. They’re everywhere.” – Neil Duncan
While deployed to Afghanistan in December 2005, Neil’s unit was conducting a routine mission. Their job was to spend the night watching a village. The next morning, they left their observation post to return to base. As the three-truck convoy crept along a dry river bed, the first two vehicles missed an IED that had been buried underground. Neil’s truck struck it.
The IED detonated directly beneath Neil and, though it didn’t shear his legs off, it caused enough damage that both required amputation. Neil woke up remembering an explosion, but a week had passed and he had no idea where he was. Because he required nonstop surgeries after his injury, the medical team had put him in a week-long chemically-induced coma.
What followed was two years of intense therapy. Neil was fitted for and forced himself to walk with prosthetics. As an athlete and a soldier, it was particularly frustrating to constantly trip and fall as he relearned to walk. But he kept at it, refusing a wheel chair. He says his “stubbornness” paid off. Recalling those days, he says he adapted much more quickly because he never gave up.
Neil became a part of Wounded Warrior Project during this time. He cites WWP and the opportunities they created as a big part of his successful rehabilitation. Neil met fellow warriors and networked at functions with people from all walks of life. Since his rehabilitation, he never misses a chance to fully live, whether climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, which he has done once and plans to do again, or sailing in treacherous yacht races with a team of amputees. He has a different perspective on life and says, “[WWP] opens doors. You have to walk through them. . . . Opportunities abound. They’re everywhere.”