TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Matt and Alecia Lammers make every day a victory over obstacles that would defeat people with less determination----and love.
In Iraq, an exploding shell cost Army Staff Sergeant Matt Lammers an arm and both legs.
That does not stop him swimming at the Davis Monthan pool, three or four miles, five days a week.
He says, “It would take me about five hours to swim about three miles when I first started."
But in a year of swimming he lost 120 pounds and gained enough speed to win three gold medals and a bronze in the Warrior Games where military athletes push through their injuries to compete, and win.
Alecia Lammers says, “Watching him compete...I still have goosebumps. It was amazing. It was so rewarding. So many hours in the pool paid off, right there."
Matt and Alecia met a few years after Matt was wounded in 2007. She was night manager at a store. He was making a point of shopping late.
"There was a time in my life I just didn't want to go out and be seen in public. Self pity would be the best way in hindsight to describe it. Just a lot of personal fears I had, I had to overcome. She really helped with that. So we just started dating after that. It's been beautiful ever since."
Alecia knew life would be a challenge, but a challenge they had the formula to push through.
"Love. Determination. Holding each other. Having the same goals."
Matt's determination to serve brought him back to Iraq four years after an improved bomb blew up his HUMV. In 2007 his vehicle was almost back at his base when he was hit again.
“I picked up my left hand. It was shredded pretty much all the way down to my elbow. I put it aside thinking that can't be my hand."
A vehicle full of medics was close. They rushed him to a field hospital.
When we first made it to the hospital. I remember one of the doctors said, 'OK team, we need to be on our A game today. Sergeant Lammers doesn't have much time to live….I remember opening my eyes, With all due respect, Sir, are you talking about me?. He just kind of said, Oh, didn't realize you were conscious."
Sergeant Lammers lost so much blood a dose of morphine would have been so concentrated it would kill him. So he endured three amputations with nothing to shut out the pain.
“The surgeon gave me a blue hospital rag to bite down on and I just said, you know, 'with all due respect, do what you've got to do, Sir."
Now Matt and Alecia Lammers do what they have to do to push past that pain and that history. The swimming is therapy for body and mind, and so was their time at the Warrior Games, back in special camaraderie only the military know.
But before they headed to West Point for the Games, Matt was so anxious he canceled. That's when a determined wife went to work changing the mind of her determined husband.
Alicia Lammer says, “I remind him that he is a leader. Just that. I just keep reminding him that he's the leader that he's meant to be; that's he's good enough and he can do it."
And he did it. A bronze and three golds, including a gold in an event he didn't even expect to enter.
Now he's working towards the next Warrior Games, the Paralympics and the Invictus Games and he says, “As a personal goal I'd like to swim across the Hudson and the English Channel definitely."
And if Matt Lammer has a message about the challenge of his life, or yours it’s: “Never give up. Never quit. There's always a brighter day, in my own experience, Sir."