When I was a young boy visiting my friend’s aunt, I met Herbert Latimore, an Air Force paratrooper. When I saw the jet wings on his uniform and listened to his stories about jumping out of planes, I knew that when I grew up, I too wanted to join the service and jump out of planes. So upon graduation from high school in 1963, I joined the Army. As a member of the 82nd Airborne Division and 7th Special Forces Group, I obtained the rank of E4. We tested new weapons and trained troops for duty in Vietnam. After a bad jump in 1964, I became debilitated and was assigned a clerk job.
Upon leaving the Army in 1967, I first worked on a waterfront and then sold life insurance. Soon after, I entered nursing school and worked as a nurse for 30 years in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties until falls and other complications from my jump injury prevented me from continuing.
I went to the VA Medical Center in Loma Linda for medical treatment for the complications I had from my bad jump. A CT scan of my full spine revealed that a vertebrate in my neck was misaligned. The doctors operated, but the outcome left me paralyzed. I was referred to the Spinal Cord unit at the Long Beach Veteran’s Medical Center. Their therapies, which have included acupuncture, have allowed me to move my right arm more, shave, feed myself and operate my electric wheelchair. The VA even remodeled my house to support my disability. Coming to the VA is the best thing that has happened to me. This paralysis is my destiny, and I try to do the best I can.
Years ago, my brother-in-law bought me a camera and I developed an interest in photography. I used to climb trees to get the best vantage point to take photos of the floats in the Rose Parade. It was very costly back then due to the use of film. Linda Hicks told me about the Veteran’s Digital Photography Therapy program and I decided to join. I found an apparatus to take pictures using my right hand. Unfortunately, it did not work with my new wheelchair, so I then directed my great-grandson to take my pictures for me. I now have a tripod that fits on the table of my wheelchair so I am able to take my own photographs again. This program has given me a lot of joy. I was amazed at how pictures could be manipulated on the computer and transformed into different images. I love Linda because she will never let you down!
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.