After losing both legs, New Jersey Marine veteran gets back behind the wheel

WHARTON, New Jersey (WABC) -- Former U.S. Marine Corps. Sergeant Aaron Alonso enlisted right out of high school in 2006 and completed missions in Cuba, South China Sea, Philippines, Guam, and Iraq.

But during his mission in Afghanistan, Alonso's life took a drastic turn.

On February 8, 2014, Alonso stepped on an improvised explosive device, which caused the catastrophic loss of his legs.

Two weeks before his accident, during a military appreciation event in Afghanistan, Alonso met Alan Krutchkoff, president of Adopt-a-Soldier Platoon. Adopt-A-Soldier is a non-profit organization that supports active members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces by sending them care packages and helping wounded veterans when they return home.

During his six month recovery process at Walter Reed in Bethesda, Maryland, Alonso reunited with Alan and his wife Mary-Edna Krutchkoff, who would continuously visit him while he was hospitalized.

"They would always ask, 'Is there anything that you need?' 'Is there anything we can do for you?' and I was always hesitant to ask for help because I didn't want to feel that I was looking for anything or trying to take advantage," Alonso said.

After receiving a "Track chair," an electrically powered wheelchair with tank treads, from a different organization, Alonso soon realized that the rocky and muddy terrain didn't facilitate the use of his new track chair.

"I ended up reaching out to Alan and told him, 'Alan, this track chair that I got is not working for me. We've got to do something else so that I can get out into the woods,'" Alonso said. "About six months after I talked with Alan, they met me here at the house, and next thing you know, these guys roll up with the Polaris ATV."

The Polaris ATV allows Alonso to drive through the woods and sand dunes without any limitations.

"It's an absolutely amazing machine," he said. "It gives me so much freedom. It's an adrenaline rush. That was always one of the things, 'How am I going to replace the adrenaline rush after combat?' And while you're never going to get close to doing anything else, there are things that you can do that get pretty close...It's great to see that people from small-town America, a little grassroots campaign, take time out of their day to do something so big."


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