DALLAS TWP. – Behind the humor infused in Bryan Anderson's story lies a true tale of perseverance and determination that he shared Tuesday night at Misericordia University.
Anderson, an Army veteran of Iraq, lost both his legs and his left hand when an improvised explosive device, or IED, blew up the Humvee he was traveling in. After a lengthy recovery, Anderson began to piece together what he wanted to do with his life.
The event at MU on Tuesday was to support the 1st Lt. Michael Cleary Foundation to continue to provide services for veterans and their families. Cleary, formerly of Dallas, was killed in December 2005 during combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Illinois native Anderson told a large crowd in the Lemmond Auditorium about his military experience, including leaving for basic training on Sept. 11, 2001.
Sitting around a TV on that day the U.S. was attacked, waiting to leave for training, everyone in the room was quiet, Anderson said. He spoke of the mood of his fellow enlistees.
"We were in agreement, ‘This really sucks what happened to our country, but at least we are part of the group to do something about it,' " he said.
Anderson told how the camaraderie wavered briefly until his unit entered Iraq.
"You could not see beyond the vehicle in front of you. But they were greeted by women and children lining the street crying, thankful."
This was a moment that Anderson said his life changed; he realized he was fighting for them.
Anderson also talked about what he could remember of the explosion during his second tour of duty that claimed his legs and arm.
"I never felt like I was going to die," he said. "I could not understand why they were so freaked out. Then I looked down."
While spending 13 months in Walter Reed Medical Center, Anderson was eager to start living his life again. He received a call from Esquire magazine for a story and things began rolling from there.
Today, he is the spokesman for Quantum Rehab, a division of Pride Mobility Corp., and had appeared in TV's "CSI: NY" and "All My Children" and the movie "The Wrestler." He also has written a book, "No Turning Back."
Despite the loss of his legs, Anderson enjoys snowboarding, rock climbing and many other sports.