Carlos Figueroa, Sergeant, US Marines and U.S. Army (RET)

 

Carlos Figueroa was injured in 2003 by an improvised explosive device while serving as a noncommissioned officer in the US Army in Iraq. The blast caused severe damage to his left leg and a traumatic brain injury. For his service Carlos received a Purple Heart, for wounds incurred in combat, two Army Commendation Medals and an Operation Iraqi Freedom Medal.

For the next 10 years the military doctors subjected Carlos to 32 operations while they tried to salvage his limb. Finally, in 2013, Carlos chose to have his left leg amputated below the knee. Within a year, he was learning to snowboard with Move United Warfighters. Since then, Figueroa has been snowboarding as much as possible.

“I enjoy and love snowboarding, because I feel free while out on the mountain. Up there, I’m no different from anybody. I’m at my happiest,” said Carlos Figueroa of the feeling of carving down slopes. “The moment that gate drops, it’s like the door opening on a raid. I go full blast. I’m able to get something back that I felt was taken away. That rush. I love it.”

Carlos’ journey has not been an easy one; but through his own persistence, and support from organizations like Move United, he has prevailed. He joined the Marines at 17 to escape his involvement with LA gangs, where he grew up as a teenager. He served one tour in Afghanistan and then received an honorable discharge from the Marines. In 2003, with the USA invasion of Iraq, Carlos enlisted in the Army and was sent to serve in Iraq. He lives in Texas with his wife and two daughters.