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Troops, veterans and wounded warriors show strength and courage at Boston Marathon

April 18, 2017 (Photo Credit: Courtesy of Jose Luis Sanchez/Facebook)
Among the estimated 30,000 participants in this year’s Boston Marathon were several awe-inspiring stories of soldiers and veterans who demonstrated their strength and their courage by enduring the 26.2 mile run.

These are just some of the stories of the many heroes that participated in the marathon.

Earl Granville, a veteran of the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, lost his left leg in Afghanistan when the vehicle he was in hit an improvised explosive device, reports Fox News. The blast killed two of his fellow soldiers, according to Task & Purpose.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Earl Granville
Retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Earl Granville and several other service members participating in Operation Proper Exit get off of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter at Camp Nathan Smith, Afghanistan, Dec. 6, 2012.
Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo/Staff Sgt. Brendan Mackie
In the years since his injury, Granville has complete several marathons around the country by using a hand bike. But that all changed Monday.

With a prosthetic leg and a guide by his side, Granville stood tall during the marathon. And as he approached the end, he picked up his guide carrying her over his shoulder as he crossed the finish line. His guide held an American flag high as the duo crossed it. The video of Granville and his guide finishing the race has been viewed more than 8 million times.

Jose Luis Sanchez, a Marine staff sergeant who lost the lower part of his left leg from an IED in Afghanistan, ran with an American flag signed by many he served with.

 “I want to recognize veterans and everyone who thinks they can’t do something,” Sanchez said.

While serving in Iraq, Army Maj. Ivan Castro was left blind as the result of a mortar attack. When he retired from service last November, Castro was the only blind active-duty Special Forces officer, reports the Boston Globe.

Army Major Ivan Castro
Then-Capt. Ivan Castro, a blind U.S. Army Special Operations officer, shakes the hand of Army Central Command Sgt. Maj. Ronnie R. Kelley during Castro's visit Camp Arifjan, Kuwai in part of Operation Proper Exit, July 13, 2014.
Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo/Sgt. Tracy R. Myers, U.S. Army Central
As an advocate for veterans, Castro has befriended Prince Harry, who served in the Army of the United Kingdom in Afghanistan. At the suggestion of Prince Harry, Castro teamed up with British Army veteran Karl Hinett, who was also wounded while serving at Iraq.

The duo is raising money for veterans by not only running in the Boston Marathon, but then hopping on a plane to London to participate in the London Marathon just six days later. While the two have spent a combined total of more than 100 hours on operating tables as a result of their injuries, they have also ran a combined 200 marathons since they were wounded.

Lt. Joshua Bautz is a Navy doctor assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24, a Marine Corps command, as part of the shock trauma platoon, according to the Department of Defense.

He wanted to run in the Boston Marathon for years, and it was finally looking like Bautz was going to be able participate this year. That is, until he learned that he would be deploying with the Marines.

Lt. Joshua Bautz
Lt. Joshua Bautz decided to run the Boston Marathon in spirit due to his recent deployment. He is one of the medical officers assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24, deployed with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Force, as part of the shock trauma platoon.
Photo Credit: U.S. Marine Corps Photo/Gunnery Sgt. Adaecus Brooks
Last fall, Bautz had to miss the Marine Corps Marathon as well while he was deployed to Haiti in response to Hurricane Matthew.

Bautz deployed with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group aboard the Bataan, Mesa Verde and Carter Hall in February. But he didn’t let his status aboard a ship stop him. While he couldn’t be there in Boston, Bautz and several fellow Marine and Navy officers are doing their best to replicate the marathon by running on the ships treadmills. But that is not an easy feat.

“The actual Boston Marathon is a net downhill course, but the ship is so variable” said Bautz. “I’m going to start with the treadmill flat and see how it goes from there. Typically, I wind up setting the treadmill to a slight incline because with every wave and every time the ship moves you’re either going uphill or downhill.”

The Boston Athletic Association, overseeing the marathon, has already been supportive of Bautz’s plans to be there for next year’s race.

Massachusetts State Rep. John Velis, who is a captain in the Army Reserve, ran Monday as well, only it was his second marathon in just 48 hours. Having already committed to running the marathon for his second year in a row, Velis was asked if he would participate in the Tough Ruck Marathon in honor of fallen service members, MassLive reports.

The Tough Ruck is a 26.2-mile march at Minuteman National Park in Concord, Massachusetts. During the ruck march on April 15, Velis told MassLive that he would be in his military uniform, carrying 35 pounds in his pack.

"For our fallen service members, I'd march 300 miles, forget 26.2," Velis said. "This isn't a cause for me personally that I can say no to."

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