Ft. Campbell Soldier On Special Mission After Devastating Accident

Posted at 5:11 PM, Nov 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-11 19:52:55-05

Gary Linfoot has been on a mission to get something back, something that was taken from him eight years ago and eight thousand miles away after he was deployed to Iraq.

"We flew south of Baghdad to provide cover for a mission, and we never made it," the Chief Warrant Officer recalled.

It was just after 9/11. War was taking soldiers from us every day, and it almost took Gary Linfoot.

"Gary was deployed 20 times, so 19 times he came home fine," his wife Mari Linfoot said.

The two were always prepared for the worst each time Gary was deployed from Ft. Campbell. They said they were at peace knowing that war might take Gary's life, but they never imagined it would take his legs. 

"The thing about Gary’s injury is I thought he would come home or he wouldn’t," Mari said.

It was 2008 when a $50 part in the AH6 Gary was piloting failed as he was taking off. All power to the helicopter was lost. The 48-year-old managed a hard landing, his seat and his spine took the force of the impact.

"That vertebrae burst. A bone fragment went into the spinal cord and did its damage there," Gary said about the crash which paralyzed him.

Which brings us back to that mission he’s on now, after he left Walter Reed, Gary’s thoughts turned to his two daughters.

"It was a month into the injury when I realized, he’s not going to be able to walk our girls down the aisle," Mari recalled.

For Gary this became an even bigger issue when he got a call last year from his daughter Allyssa's boyfriend.

"After he asked for her hand in marriage I think I said, ‘It’s about time,'" the father of three jokingly recalled.

But for all that war has taken from Gary Linfoot, he has still been standing tall and moving forward. With a grant from the Infinite Hero Foundation, this Army Veteran was given the chance to walk again, in the form of an exoskeleton.

"I will be able to walk my daughter down the aisle when she gets married," Gary said.

And It couldn’t have come at a better time as last Saturday surrounded by fall and their closest friends and family, Gary Linfoot’s toughest mission of his life began: giving away his daughter’s hand in marriage.

For a man who had come so far and lost so much, it was perfect. How could it not be?

"She was just a bride. It wasn’t sad, it was just wonderful," Mari said about the wedding at Loveless Cafe.

"It was kind of a small victory in a way, kind of like you were beating the injury. Beating the circumstances and rising above it," Gary said about being able to walk his daughter down the aisle.

Gary Linfoot’s mission to get back what he lost that day in Iraq has been a mission that's now complete.

For information on the Infinite Hero Foundation, click here. You can also view a documentary the foundation made about Gary and his family by clicking here.