by Carrie Adams

LTJG Jason Redman knew he’d been hit, how many times he wasn’t sure, but two of his Teammates were also wounded. They were still engaging Al Quaeda fighters in an intense firefight outside Fallujah, Iraq taking heavy machine gun and small arms fire.  The Mobility Force and Assault Force Commander Redman could think only of getting his team out alive.  “I called out to God to give me strength.” Redman recalls.   Responsible for over 40 Direct Action missions throughout western Iraq, he was not new to the dangers and as he continued to take rounds to his body armor, weapon, helmet and Night Vision Goggles, he still led his team to win the fight without losing a member of his team.  That was September 13, 2007.

Redman joined the Navy in September of 1992 and had escalated up the ranks, starting as an Intelligence Specialist before graduating with BUD/S class 202 in December of 1995.  He balanced his time with deployments to South America working in Counter Drug Missions and in 2000 became a SEAL instructor for Marksmanship, Reconnaissance and Surveillance operations for his SEAL Team’s Basic Land Warfare training block.  He continued to excel in the Navy and was ultimately commissioned in May 2004 as a Navy SEAL officer.

All this led up to his assignment as an Assistant Platoon Commander and the deployment to Afghanistan in July of 2005.  The Task Unit he was injured with was directly credited with capturing over 124 Al Qaeda and Anti-Coalition fighters and killing thirteen Al Qaeda fighters.  Unfortunately for Redman, he was headed home to Bethesda due to the severity of his injuries he sustained during that September firefight .  All told, he was shot twice in the arm, once in the face and would, “Spend four years getting myself put back together again.”

Tenacious throughout his recovery, he demanded no special attention or pity for his wounds, focusing on his love of the job and country that led to his injuries.  In fact, he was fiercely proud of the scars and wounds he earned on the battlefield knowing the full risks and dangers are part of the job.  Redman committed himself to an optimistic and full recovery and showed the staff, his family and friends that despite 34 surgeries and painful treatments, he was proud of what had brought him there.  As he recovered, it was obvious he needed modifications to clothing and he realized that it was something he wanted to not only create but he wanted to promote awareness around the warriors themselves in the process.  Encourage pride and motivate those who were injured and honor those were fallen.   To that end, he began Wounded Wear three years ago, a Non-Profit organization whose mission is to raise the national awareness of the sacrifice of wounded warriors, their families, and the families of fallen service members.

According to their website, “In support of this mission Wounded Wear advocates on behalf anf facilitates opportunities for those who have sacrificed so much, as well as providing free fashionable clothing kits and modifications to wounded warriors that empower them to rediscover the hero within.”

Redman states, “I don’t know why I was spared and others didn’t.  But it made me say I have to make the most of this.”  Emboldened by his own survival and recovery and the growth of Wounded Wear, Redman took his mission a step further in the recent creation of Team Wounded Wear.  Team Wounded Wear is comprised of physically fit, adventure racers.  They are active and former military, wounded warriors, and patriots who are looking to endure some of the country’s most challenging adventure races, marathons, and Fitness challenges, and do all of it wearing full combat equipment while carrying a 185 pound downed man.

Team Wounded Wear

Led by James Ogden who ran Spartan’s Carolina’s Spartan Sprint earlier this year six times in support of Wounded Wear, you may remember his story told HERE, they are taking on the Carolina’s Spartan Beast for the first time, leaving the start line at 10:50 AM.  Ogden has beena supporter of Wounded Wear and a fan of Jay’s since he met him in 2002 at Old Dominion University under the Navy ROTC program.

Says Ogden, “After the dust settled from the Carolina event, I wanted to do something bigger but I wanted to incorporate some of my closest veteran athletes.  Originally, we were just going to do one event; this year’s Carolina Spartan Beast.  But since it’s conception, it has grown into what will now be a formalized team that will be traveling all over the country, motivating and inspiring wounded warriors, the American’s they fought for and their communities, and ultimately ‘Helping Warriors rediscover the Hero within.”

We look forward to seeing them on race day!  Learn more about Wounded Wear and their mission by watching this video HERE.

How can YOU support Wounded Wear?

Anyone can purchase Wounded Wear clothing – All proceeds from clothing sales go back to support their mission.  Wounded Wear clothing is Clothing for Patriots.  It symbolizes the Sacrifice that built this nation and the costs that our veterans have to endure, both physical and mental, once they come home. http://woundedwear.org/store.  Additionally, Donations are always accepted.  They can be made on Wounded Wear’s website. http://woundedwear.org/

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by Carrie Adams

527287_1987524544080_1722301684_952010_968456532_nSpartans give generously. 

James Ogden went to the Carolinas on a mission.  He went to loop the course and raise money for Wounded Wear, ending in a triumphant finale with weighted vest, full ruck, and elevation mask.  We told you about this Spartan with a Cause in an earlier blog post

Ogden earned six medals for his efforts on that day and the respect of many of his fellow Spartan racers and one even felt compelled to show Ogden how much his journey meant to her. 

Ogden posted the following message to his FB wall,  “If you would like to see a fully522466_2036265402571_1722301684_971378_1647898971_n grown man and combat hardened Marine veteran, cry his eyeballs out like an elated five year-old girl, please do the following:
1.) Send a Spartan Helmet to him; one that is won for a first place finish during a Spartan Race event.
2.) Include a note that states the following:
“You deserve this more than I do. Thank you for being such an inspiration. Best wishes on your continued success. Until the next Spartan Race… Aroo!!!
Kindest Regards,
Amanda Czapla

Czapla is the female champion from both the Carolinas and the Miami events in 2012.  In a gesture of respect for Ogden’s accomplishment she mailed him her first place helmet.  A truly remarkable gift from a truly remarkable woman.

She’s quickly made a name for herself as a athlete in the Spartan circuit balancing strength and speed and she’s gone even further making a name for herself as a gracious and humble human being.  We’ll have much more on this rad Spartan chick in upcoming posts, she’s one to watch and she’s one to follow

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by Carrie Adams

Gasping for breath, Ogden crossed the finish line for the sixth time in two days, held up by friends and spurned on by a crowd who greeted him with cheers as he nearly collapsed.  Covered in mud, scraped, bruised, and battered, he was finally able to rest having fulfilled a commitment he’d made months before when he sent a simple email to my inbox.

527287_1987524544080_1722301684_952010_968456532_n

When I began reading the message, I was intrigued by Ogden’s request.  It was simple, Ogden was direct.  He politely asked me if he would be able to run the Carolinas course as many times as he could.  This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked this question by a Spartan athlete, but James had a special reason.  He wanted to raise money for the charity Wounded Wear.  Given limited heat sizes, we don’t allow multiple heats run on the same day at an event, but Ogden was ultimately granted special permission given the cause and his commitment.  

He explained, “My challenge is to now focus these efforts to raise money for a non-WW_Posterprofit organization; Wounded Wear.  I have made it possible to pledge money ($$ amount per lap) or by simply a flat donation for my efforts via a wepay.com website that is set up here.  As a former Marine Veteran I fully believe and support the organization and their mission.  My entire reason for doing this is to draw attention to our wounded vets and, of course, the awesome (non-profit) organization; Wounded Wear.”

Wounded Wear provides free clothing and clothing modifications to wounded warriors and raises the national awareness of the sacrifices of America’s wounded and their families.

Wounded Wear was created by a severely wounded Navy SEAL who while undergoing his own reconstruction and recovery recognized two key issues that were not addressed by other organizations. He struggled with his massive injuries to find clothing he could wear around the medical devices necessary for healing and he noticed that most people never assumed that his injuries were incurred on the battlefield fighting for our Freedom.

Ogden ultimately took on the challenging course six times.  Racers and athletes watched on with fascination and horror during the sixth lap as Ogden battled the course while donning an elevation mask and carrying a ruck and weighted vest adding and additional 50 pounds. 

Beginning his six laps in the early Saturday morning Hurricane Heat and ending on Sunday he details his time on the course and the people and the cause that helped inspire him along the way. 

On race day, I did six laps total.  That includes the Hurricane heat on Saturday morning.  It took us about 3.5 hours to finish it.  We got done with that at 9:20 or so in the morning.  I still needed to eat and replenish my fluids.  I did that an washed all of the excess mud off of me.  Lap two for me started at around 10AM.  This was obviously my fasted lap.  I think, total, it took me an hour and a half to finish it.  After got back, I knew I needed to eat but had to just chug a bottle of Powerade and take off.  My friend John Henry was fighting off some serious cramps but decided to do this heat with me.  Three was bad.   I basically forgot to eat and felt it after about half way through.  My blood sugar dropped like a rock.  John Henry kept me going but just making small-talk, pithy jokes and such.  Once I got back I had realized that because I slowed due to my blood sugar dropping, I wasn’t going to be able to do five heats total in that day like I had wanted to.  I took a “break” for about an hour. 

I ate a whole bag of Simple Granola, drank a couple cans of Kill Cliff, changed clothes and I was a new man.  I killed my fourth heat.  I probably passed half of the field from the previous heat (@3:30).  I coasted on in and Eric Ashley, one of my heroes, had been checking in on me and personally gave me my fourth medal.  It’s pretty cool when a person that deeply inspires you, gives you a medal.  And chatted with me for about an hour afterwards.  Super cool guy and he gave me some awesome advice.

One of the biggest challenges laid before me and that was waking up the next day and essentially doing it all over again.  My entire body was bruised, cut-up, rubbed raw — my hands had blisters and splinters.  My feet and knees sounded like a bag of popcorn in the microwave.  But my alarm clock that was set for 5:15 that morning didn’t even get a chance to go off.  I was up at 4 just stretching, pacing and re-hydrating.  I was amped.  Ready to attack it all over again.  The only thing that was stressing me was what I had planned for the final lap. 

Another huge challenge was getting over the mentality of what qualified me as “a finisher.”  That was huge.  Usually, you show up, STFU, get your medal, pass around a few high-fives, drink some beer and go home.  That wasn’t what was in store for me.  As happy as it made me to see all of these new, and very elated, Spartans, I still had a mission to accomplish.  And I sort of had to block all of that out.

John Henry decided to do the my fifth lap with me on day two.  That was a HUGE morale booster for me.  Anytime you have JHE next to you, it’s going to be a good day.  While we were running, we chatted about how the last lap was going to go down.  I preemptively bitched about every hill and every obstacle knowing full well that it was going to hurt and it was going to be super tough.  JHE’s standard response:  “Yea, that is going too suck.”  My body was pretty shot at this point so it was indeed all mental.  JHE and I coasted in at just over two hours.

Close Up _Ogden JamesFor the final lap, I had about 40 minutes to get changed, feed myself, and gear up.  Just to antiquate it, I had a 20 pound vest, a 30 pound ruck, and (the killer) the elevation mask.  I got a lot of concerned looks on the way to the start line, to say the least.  But I had my elite entourage covering my six: John Henry, Todd Sedlak, and a guy that I ran with at the HH – John Powers.  I’m not going to lie, I walked at a 3.5 mph pace the whole time. 

From previous training, I knew that the mask, when I had all kinds of weight and gear strapped to me, basically restricted my breathing down to barely acceptable levels.  I had to really concentrate on my breathing.  I felt so lightheaded just moving from one obstacle to the next.  I honestly don’t know if I could have made it with out my guys– I have a strong feeling that I would’ve had to ditch the mask.  Every hill was a battle.  My muscles fatigued faster than they ever had – I felt kind of useless at points.  There were a few points where I had to take the mask off and take a knee. 

The guys were always patting me on the back: “You got this, man.  This is all you.”   There were some obstacles that there were was just no way that I was going to complete it with all of my gear.  To avoid burpees, Todd, JHE, or Powers would do it for 389663_10150605212806861_251061411860_9643993_1450376691_nme and we would move on.  The low-crawl through the mud under barbed wire was unequivocally the worst.  Todd and John pushed me and Powers helped me drag my ruck.  We moved pretty quickly considering the circumstances.  A lot of the racers had stopped at the end to make sure we all made it out ok — or perhaps they just wanted to see the show that was unfolding before them.  The biggest problem that I was having was trying to keep my mask opening from going in the mud and, thereby, cutting off what little air that I was taking in.  So I had to look sideways and up; not comfy in the least.  And at this point, the mud was at its worst consistency.  Just slick as can be and full of rocks and roots.  I am most confident that all of us walked away from that pit bleeding from at least three areas on our body. 

When I put the ruck back on, it weighed at least fifteen pounds heavier.  That’s something I did not train for.  I just had to suck it up and drive on.  The funny thing is all of the guys were telling stories and making jokes the whole time and I kept laughing in my mask.  That screwed my breathing up but kept my spirits high the whole time.  We kept pushing forward. 

I stopped and took my mask off when I knew had less than quarter mile to go and still in the woods.  I heard the announcer and music playing in the not-so-distant background.  I caught my breath again and thanked those guys from the bottom of my heart.  I could not have gotten this far without them.  And there was indeed a small part of me that, even when I started, thought that I would end up failing.  They, in turn, thanked me for letting them be apart of this.  Are you fucking kidding me?  “You’re thankful?  No I’m thankful!”  We could have argued all day and night but, at that point, it had been BEER:THIRTY about two hours ago so we shoved on.

560940_10150605228671861_251061411860_9644106_1423847210_nThe rest was history.  We worked through the last few obstacles. And made it to the fire and the floating platform that led to about 75 meters of open water to cross.  Todd and JHE had an epic battle with the pugil stick Spartans at the end.  They pushed them completely off the raft.  I had tripped on the rocks and fallen on my face, hitting my head as well.  Exhausted and confused, I look over my right shoulder while seeing double (and trying to catch my breath yet again) and saw John Powers reaching for me with an out-stretched hand and calling my name. I grabbed it and the flag that I had dropped and jumped onto the platform and back off of it.  My Marine Corps training kicked in once I was submerged; I immediately donned the mask and sank to the bottom with all +50 pounds strapped to me.  I pushed up off the bottom but didn’t even reach the surface before JHE and Todd had snatched me up.  They hoisted me up over their shoulders and I had the flag in my hands.  It was pretty emotional.  Finish photo

The guys were still thanking me but with cracks in their voices.  “For what?  Having you babysit me for the past 4+ miles?”  They set me down about ten feet from the water line and I was able to walk it in with fifty or so people gathered around and screaming.  It was tough not to get emotional. 

Six laps, almost a marathon’s distance for a cause.  Ogden indicates that over $2500 was raised for Wounded Wear.  If you’d like to help this worth cause, donate directly through WoundedWear.org or go to Ogden’s donation page HERE.

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