Thirty-one Marathons in as Many Days for Marine Veteran Double-amputee

rob jones

By Debbie Gregory.

Running one marathon is difficult. Running one marathon after losing both legs is extremely difficult. So what would you say of a double amputee running 31 marathons in 31 days? An impossible task?

Well, Iraq and Afghanistan Marine combat veteran and double-amputee Rob Jones would disagree with you there. The 32-year-old Jones is running the equivalent of 31 marathons in 31 days on two prosthetic limbs to raise money for veterans’ charities.

Jones lost both legs above the knee in 2010, four months in to his second deployment, when an improvised explosive device detonated under his feet in Helmand province in Afghanistan.

“When a veteran comes home and they’re wounded, whether psychologically or mentally or physically, that doesn’t mean they’re now disabled, broken, or incapable of contributing to society,” Jones said.

Seven years after losing his legs, Jones’s “31 in 31” kicked off on October 12th in Hyde Park, London.

“I’m trying to be an example of a veteran who’s had a traumatic experience overseas and I came back and I found my new way of helping society, staying in the fight, and contributing to my family and to America,” Jones said.

Jones was medically retired in December 2011 and was outfitted with a pair of bionic knees and prosthetics legs at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he relearned how to walk. As part of his physical rehabilitation, he took up rowing. Then cycling. Now running.

Jones hopes to raise up to $1 million for three charities he credits with aiding him in his recovery: Semper Fi Fund, Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, and Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation.

Jones finishes his run at the National Mall in Washington on Veterans Day.

If you would like to support this hero’s journey, visit

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A Most Heroic Ride: Military Connection


Military Connection: toran

By Debbie Gregory.

U.S. Marine Sgt. Toran Gaal, a corporal infantry rifleman in 15 Charlie Company with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, was badly injured four years ago during his second deployment to Afghanistan. An IED claimed his left leg and severely damaged his right leg. He also sustained a crush injury to the left side of his head and lost part of his brain.

Gaal is currently on a 3,000 mile trek, using a hand cycle, across the U.S. Brian Riley is his one-man support crew.

Riley, a fellow Marine, was on foot patrol in Afghanistan in 2011 when machine gun fire penetrated his left leg, which had to be amputated.

A former athlete, Gaal spent two and a half years in physical therapy at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. It was at Freedom Station, where veterans re-acclimate to civilian life, that he met Riley.

Although they didn’t much care for each other at the beginning, they shared a common goal to compete in adaptive sports. They had something else in common: a desire to support other veterans and their families the way they had been supported by the Semper Fi Fund.

The two veterans began planning a coast-to-coast trip, where Gaal would ride an adapted bike, and Riley would provide vehicular support.

Their journey began on June 1st in San Diego, with plans to arrive in Arlington, Virginia, on August 2nd , where they will visit the Iwo Jima and Marine Corps memorials. At the end of the ride, Gaal will place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

To date, Gaal has raised $35,000 of his $40,000 goal, but he wants to raise more.

“I challenge every person in each city we visit to donate $1,” Gaal said.

“Not just for us — for the next generation of warriors who are going to have to endure the hardships we did for recovery.” As Gaal’s website says, “The only limits in life are those we set for ourselves.”

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A Most Heroic Ride: Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory