Jorge DeLeon joined the U.S. Army in 2001, looking to overcome big challenges and to live a more exciting life. For the next three years, DeLeon served as a paratrooper and deployed to various parts of the world. In his career, he made a total of 72 jumps without injury. DeLeon’s time with the Army seemed exciting and full of adventures to new places.
DeLeon first served with the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan. DeLeon’s first deployment required him to defend Kandahar Airport, where he faced nightly enemy mortar bombings.
Seven months later, DeLeon PCS’d for a year in South Korea with the 506th Infantry. Serving in Korea did not sate DeLeon’s desire for excitement; however, he found the country beautiful and relaxing, never having to think about fending off invaders.
As his year in Korea cruised by, he requested orders for his next assignment – Hawaii. Once again, DeLeon felt very relaxed in Hawaii and his wife, daughter and son even came to live with him. He was only there for less than a month before he deployed back to Afghanistan.
DeLeon’s period of relaxation disappeared as he found himself attached to the Special Forces in Afghanistan and tasked with looking for Osama bin Laden in April 2004. He led a team of four and conducted patrols searching for hidden weapons.
One day, DeLeon was driving the lead Humvee in a convoy. He spotted a suspicious gathering of people participating in what looked like a funeral. Suddenly, the Humvee ran over a mine, and the ground blew up. The explosion sent the Humvee flying several feet into the air, and it landed with DeLeon trapped inside. Enemies began firing at DeLeon’s fellow soldiers while he was trapped in the Humvee.
Under enemy fire, DeLeon’s allies rushed to help him out. He laid on the ground and felt less pain than he expected. Instead, he focused on trying to grasp the events that unfolded before him. Only a few moments later did DeLeon look down and notice a bone sticking out of his left leg and an entirely missing right leg. In addition to losing his leg, DeLeon suffered hearing loss and a traumatic brain injury.
Pain rushed through DeLeon’s body. He spent the first night at a hospital in Afghanistan. When he woke up, he found himself at a hospital in Germany. Then, he was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Maryland for a seven-month recovery.
Today, DeLeon wears a computerized prosthetic leg. Prosthetists at Brooke Army Medical Center closely monitor DeLeon’s situation. They even outfitted him with their latest prosthetic technology. The innovation afforded DeLeon the ability to actively participate in marathons and skydiving.
For a period, he also served as a motivational speaker for wounded Veterans. Because DeLeon endured financial and emotional distress with his injury, he wanted to help others get through their own moments of difficulty.
For his service, DeLeon received the Purple Heart.
We honor his service.
Writer: Calvin Wong
Editor: Julia Pack
Fact Checker: Courtney Atkins, Richard Aguilera
Graphics: Mohogany Bridges