By Military Connection Staff Writer Joe Silva.
Comic books, movies and TV shows have produced thrilling stories that inspire children and motivate adults. The heroes of these fantastical epics are usually born on another planet or possess some type of genetic mutation that grants them some type of extraordinary power. Utilizing their awesome powers, these superheroes save the Earth. We adore them and try to emulate their greatness.
Men do not always need super powers in order to overcome adversity and achieve greatness. US Army Captain Iván Castro is proof of this.
Iván Castro was born in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1967. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1988. As an enlisted soldier, Castro deployed to Iraq as part of Operation Desert Storm, and then was deployed to Columbia, Belize and Ecuador.
In 2004, Sergeant Castro finished his BA degree and attended the Army’s Officer Candidate School. He was then deployed to Afghanistan in 2005, and to Iraq in 2006. During this second trip to Iraq, an enemy mortar round landed near Castro, killing two of his men and sending shrapnel through several parts of his body. Castro fractured several bones in his face, losing his right eye and received numerous metal fragments in his left eye. Additionally, he suffered collapsed lungs, received excessive damage to his shoulder, and lost one of his fingers in the blast.
Castro was alive, but his body was broken, and his sight was taken from him. Many mortals would have given up at this point and accepted their fate to a life of convalescence. But Iván Castro literally soldiered on. Now, Captain Castro has a permanent assignment at the Army’s Special Operations Command, at the 7th Special Forces Group Headquarters located at Fort Brag NC.
Castro’s transformation was not the typical change that most superheroes experience. But his change unleashed a power within him that every superhero requires and every mortal admires– fortitude.
Unlike superhuman abilities found in comic book heroes, Castro’s power, his existence and his feats are real. Despite his injuries and despite losing his sight, not only is Captain Castro still serving his country, but he has also completed dozens of marathons and long distance races.
Currently, our real life Captain America has teamed up with some fellow super-friends to compete in the 2013 Walking With the Wounded South Pole Allied Challenge. This competition is comprised of teams of wounded warriors from the U.S., the United Kingdom, and the Commonwealth. Three teams will trek 208 miles through Antarctica to the South Pole, through temperatures reaching -49°F and 50 mph winds, in order to raise awareness and funds to help wounded, injured and sick Allied Veterans around the world.
Captain Castro is joined on Team U.S. by fellow wounded warriors: Air Force Veteran Therese Frentz; Army Veteran Mark Wise, and Army Veteran Margaux Mange. Team U.S. is mentored by the competition’s co-founder, Ed Parker, and led by their guide, Inge Solheim.
Team U.K. is made up of wounded British Veterans Duncan Slater, Ibrar Ali, Kate Philp and Guy Disney. Their mentor is Richard Eyre, and their leader/guide is Conrad Dickinson. The patron of Team U.K., joining the team on the trek, is Prince Harry of Wales.
Team Commonwealth is made up of Wounded Veterans Heath Jamieson of Australia, Seamus Donaghue of Australia, Alexandre Beaudin D’Anjou of Canada, and Chris Downey of Canada. Team Commonwealth is mentored by Simon Daglish and led by Eric Philips.
This Alliance of super heroes, much like their fictional counterparts, inspires us to be greater than our mortal selves. Their fortitude is a real “Super Power”.