Matt Amos loves his country and he loves a challenge.
It’s part of what makes him a great Marine.
It was one of those challenges that helped Matt see exactly what he was fighting for on his three tours in the Middle East.
“I can’t not be a part of that, and so I was in the recruiter’s office in May, and they gave me a ship date to boot camp of December,” says Matt.
Matt Amos remembers the U.S. invasion into Iraq in April of 2002.
It’s when he took action and joined the Marines.
He took his first deployment to Iraq in 2004 where he spent a lot of time looking for and detonating land mines.
He says it was a calm deployment when compared to his second, when Matt was injured after an explosion blew off part of his face.
A surgeon would fix it, and Matt would head home to spend some time with his wife and 8-month old daughter, born just weeks before his deployment.
Matt would re-enlist and after 18 months back at home and the birth of another daughter, he felt it was time to go again.
This time he was headed to Afghanistan with the highly decorated Alpha Company First Battalion 5th Marines.
“I’d even kinda prepared my wife, I said this is gonna be a tough one, just be – anything could happen,” remembers Matt.
Matt and his fellow Marines were planted in a mine field, going on daily patrols finding land mines.
He says the casualties started three or four days in and never stopped.
Seventeen were killed in action, and he can’t count how many were wounded, including himself.
“I must have stepped off the line just a little bit because that’s when I felt the ground go soft, and I was like, uh this isn’t good and then boom!” says Matt. “I remember it basically blew me straight up, and I know I had to at least be nine feet in the air so I could see in the compound walls.”
Matt says he only remembers bits and pieces of what happened during his time getting from Afghanistan to Maryland.
“Every day I’d wake up and my legs were shorter,” says Matt. “I started out as a bilateral below the knee and woke up and this leg was shorter, that leg was shorter, they’d wake me up, I’d have to sign and stuff.”
Matt would go through his post-op back home in California where he learned of an organization called Wounded Warrior Outdoors.
Nine months to the day of his injury, Matt found himself embracing another challenge while on a bear hunt in British Columbia.
He had the chance to take a bear, but it meant painful walking.
“At that point, I’m not thinking about the pain of the legs. I’m thinking about the mission of getting the bear. That became my focus. Ended up taking the bear and that completely did a 180 on my mind. Now, I know I can do it, and this is how I can do it,” says Matt.
Now, he says part of his life’s purpose is to help other amputees have that similar experience.
He does part of that, thanks to the people he meets working at Peeple’s Prosthetics here in Wichita.
“Since my injury, I have seen the absolute best of what this country has to offer. I’ve seen so much incredible support, that’s what drives me because I’ve seen what this country has to offer,” says Matt.
Matt says he never experienced much anger over his injury, rather he says he’s grateful.
And he says the other part of what he believes is his life’s purpose is to live for his brothers who didn’t make it home.
“It’s my hope they can kind of live vicariously through me, I don’t ever want to let them down, I don’t want to let their sons downs so that’s kind of what drives me.”