Over the past couple of weeks a U.S. Army veteran and wounded warrior, Joseph Grabianowski, learned to skydive in Eloy, Arizona. Joe is a story of survival, triumph, and courage that has already inspired thousands. After sustaining wounds from a roadside bomb blast in Afghanistan on May 29, 2012, Joe underwent a grueling series of surgeries that concluded with him becoming one of the highest-level amputees at Walter Reed.
Now Joe has set his sights on new personal goals, one of which is learning to skydive. “I’ve always wanted to skydive even before I got wounded in Afghanistan…” said Joe, “I always wanted to achieve goals that would test me to my mental limits. Yes, it is a goal that is worth achieving because not a lot of people can do this. When I was in the hospital ward at Walter Reed I started thinking about being involved in skydive tandems only for the rest of my life based on my wounds and amputations. That all changed when I discovered Todd Love’s story and the things he was doing.”
In June 2013, a non-profit organization called Operation Enduring Warrior (OEW) teamed up with AXIS Flight School and Skydive Arizona in training another wounded warrior, Todd Love, to skydive on his own. Todd is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran and a triple amputee with similar lower extremity injuries as Joe. In addition, he lost part of his left arm below the elbow. Todd has been the driving force behind the OEW Skydive program. After earning his A-license last summer, Todd has continued to jump and now has 75 jumps under his belt.
Joe learned about Todd’s story in 2013, “he was skydiving on his own already and that opened great opportunities once again that I myself may follow. Todd had similar amputations as I have you see. Todd has been my motivator and my true inspiration.”
Joe is now 13 jumps into his skydiving training. He has performed exceptionally both in freefall and under canopy. Joe will continue his training at Skydive Arizona in the near future with a goal of earning his A-license by that date.
Photos by Mike McGowan