Staff Sgt. Timothy Brown lost both his legs above the knee and his right arm above the elbow in an IED explosion in 2011. He refuses to give up on life and continues to put a positive spin on the challenges he faces daily.
While deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, Staff Sgt. Timothy Brown and the other Marines of 1st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company typically responded to at least two calls a day to neutralize improvised explosive devices.
Diffusing the devices and disposing of them safely was a part of their every day routine.
Staff Sgt. Timothy Brown, from Houston, Texas, settles into his recumbent bike prior to the start of the handcycling competition during the 2014 Marine Corps Trials at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 9, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Michael V. Walters)
But February 3 was not an ordinary day. It was a day that would change Brown’s life forever.
But Brown has no memory of that day. He remembers going to sleep the night before and waking up in the States 10 days later. Everything he knows he learned from videos, reports of the blast and his fellow Marines.
“We responded to a call, and while we were walking toward the IED, I stepped on a secondary,” Brown said. “When I went to set up the safe area, I just hit it.”
When he finally woke up, Brown tried to assess the situation and figure out what went wrong.
“The first thing I tried to do was do a post-blast analysis on myself,” Brown said. “I wanted to know what I did to trigger the IED.”
Brown lost both legs above the knee, his right arm above the elbow and mangled his left hand. In spite of it all, Brown tried
to keep his focus on the future, even though life as he knew it had changed.
“I knew my life wasn’t over yet,” Brown said.
Getting past the dark times was difficult, Brown said. But he maintains a positive attitude toward his injuries.
“I have to keep an eye on the future and whatever bright things I might be able to do,” Brown said. “I keep pushing toward
Staff Sgt. Timothy Brown reacts to a shotput throw during the 2014 Marine Corps Trials at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 6, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Michael V. Walters)
them and eventually I’ll get there. Even if it takes months or even years.”
One year after his injury, Brown began hand cycling as a form of therapy.
“When I found cycling, I felt like I finally had something to focus on,” Brown said. “When I’m not riding, I’m thinking about when I’m going to be able to ride again.”
This year, Brown competed in cycling and field at the 2014 Marine Corps Trials on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. For Brown, being able to compete in the trials has been a great experience.
“When I’m on the bike or in the discus chair, I’m not thinking about what I can’t do,” Brown said. “I’m thinking about how I can be better.”
Competing in the trials has been a rewarding experience, Brown said. The camaraderie and competitive spirit of the trials is what draws him to compete.
Staff Sgt. Timothy Brown throws a discus during the 2014 Marine Corps Trials at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., March 5, 2014. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Michael V. Walters)
“You have a common ground with these guys,” he said. “Most of us are going through a healing process, but as Marines, everything is a competition.”
Every emotion that comes with being injured becomes Brown’s motivation when he’s in action.
“I take all the frustration, anger and depression and put it through the wheels of the bike,” Brown said. “I’m not thinking about what happened three years ago. I’m thinking about what’s happening in the next 15 seconds.”
After each race, the negative feelings all seem to fade away.
“When I’m done with the ride, I realize I just did something badass and it makes me proud,” Brown said. “I’m not feeling down on myself because I just did something that a lot of able-bodied people haven’t.”