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Wounded US Veteran Inspires As Ballboy at US Open - Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Inspiring Story For All

It might have been a long way but American soldier Ryan McIntosh still carried a smile when he tried out with 600 other hopefuls to become a bellboy at the US Open this year. He refuses to surrender to his disability after losing his right leg stepping on a mine planted by the Taliban in the deadly province of Kandahar almost two years ago.

The accident launched him 10 feet into the air, the bloody shock of the horror attack knocking him unconscious with surgeons having no choice but to amputate his right leg below the knee.

With a wife and a son to support, and another child on the way, he still continues to work as a sports coach with other disabled servicemen and women at Fort Sam Houston in Texas.

"They asked me if I could throw a tennis ball. I said, 'Hey if I can throw a hand grenade, I can throw a tennis ball.' Grenades are a lot heavier," said the 23-year-old.

On Monday, at the US Open, he was centre-stage on the showpiece Arthur Ashe Stadium during American star Serena Williams's fourth-round match.

It was an emotional moment for McIntosh as the occasion coincided with the tournament's Military Appreciation Day where he, as well as other US Army, Navy and Air Force personnel, were given a standing ovation by the 20,000 crowd.

"It was a routine mission. We were heading back to base, in single file. I was number six when we were moving through the country," he said.

Back home in Texas, his wife Hannah was waiting and now their son Kaden, 16 months old, is McIntosh's inspiration.

"Knowing I had a son, I wanted to be at his side, coach him, give him a push," said McIntosh.

"I also want other wounded soldiers to know that even though what happened can be an obstacle, at the same time the human will is very powerful and you can overcome those obstacles."


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