Sam Houston State University will be welcoming 31-year-old retired Marine Sgt. James “Eddie” Wright to campus next semester. Wright, who was the only serviceman to lose both hands in the recent war and return to active duty, will be working towards his business degree so that he will one day become a motivational speaker.
Wright first joined the Marines in 1995. In April of 2004, Wright was leading a convoy patrolling in south Fallujah when an RPG struck his unit. His right arm below the elbow and left hand were destroyed in the explosion. Wright also lost his left leg in the attack.
While recovering at the Bethesda Naval Hospital and Walter Reed Army
Medical Center, Wright became inspired by other members of the military that were injured worse than he. He also met men and women that remained in uniform after losing one limb.
Wright learned that he was one of less than half a dozen service men and women to lose both hands in the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars, but that did not stop him from becoming the only one to return to active study after his injuries.
“I don’t make excuses for myself,” said Wright as quoted in the ‘Seattle Post-Intelligencer.’ “Everybody is in control of their lives to a certain extent. What I can’t control is having hands. What I can control is my attitude about it.”
It took more than a year for Wright to recover and start therapy. During this time, he was promoted to Sergeant and awarded the Bronze Star for valor, which he showed when he continued to direct his fellow soldiers and keep them calm after the RPG nearly destroyed the convoy.
Wright refused to be honorably discharged during his physical therapy and fought to stay in uniform. He won the right to serve and a job teaching at the Marine Corps’ martial arts school in Quantico, Virginia. He was offered the job by Marine Major General Tom Jones, head of the training and education command, who was impressed with his determination to remain a Marine.
“What I enjoyed the most was working at something where I wasn’t filling a desk,” said Wright.
Even though he has remained upbeat about his situation, Wright had problems getting used to his prosthetic limbs. With a few adjustments, he is still able to do some of the things he loves, but has to continue to use creativity and take the time to learn how to do other things.
“Like anybody else, I have rough days, but not any more than before I was injured,” said Wright, “although I have had to learn to be more patient.”
James “Eddie” Wright plans on attending SHSU in January to earn his business degree. He hopes that one day he will have a career in motivational speaking and has already started by speaking free to veterans at events like the AmVets convention in Chicago.
The quoted material in this article is courtesy of the ‘Seattle Post-Intelligencer.’