- NC Veteran who Had Leg Amputated Fights Back to Reclaim Life

GASTONIA, N.C. (AP) — Raised primarily by his grandfather, a Navy veteran of World War II, Brian Conwell dreamed from an early age of serving his country in the military.

“He instilled in me the ideas of duty and of patriotism,” Conwell recalled. “I did some checking and it turns out a member of my family has served in every conflict since the American Revolution.”

The dream was deferred for a bit as “life got in the way,” but on July 27, 2006, Conwell, now 41, joined the Army and knew immediately that he had found his calling, his true purpose in life.

Trained as a generator mechanic, Conwell spent a year in the reserves, then went on active duty in 2007. His first overseas posting was to Germany, but in November of 2008 he headed to Iraq.

With his mechanical skills, Conwell was in demand in the war-torn country, keeping equipment running and also serving as a gunner for his commanding officer when they went up and down the highways of Iraq.

Conwell returned home late in 2009 with the intention of not simply serving the 20 years in the Army necessary to qualify for full retirement, but rather “until they got tired of me and kicked my butt out.”

“I was a good soldier,” said Conwell, who had risen to the rank of sergeant. I was good at training other soldiers. I was in top physical condition.