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Sgt. William "Bud" McLeroy | by US Army Reserve
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Sgt. William "Bud" McLeroy

FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif.— Army Reserve Master Sgt. William “Bud” McLeroy has probably lived several lifetimes in his 48 years: racecar driver, firefighter, Soldier –all despite having his leg amputated.

On September 26, 1993, McLeroy was competing in an off-road racing competition in Plaster City, east of his native San Diego. This race was a preparation for Baja 1000, the big race on the circuit.

During the race his engine quit, so he and his co-driver pulled over to the side of the dirt road. McLeroy got out and tried to restart the engine. The passing race cars created a dust cloud that made him and his car invisible. A car going over 90 mph struck him, knocking him off his feet and into the air.

Not realizing the extent of his injury, McLeroy tried to get on his feet to avoid being hit by another car but was unable to stand. The other driver had stopped to render aid, and the look of fear on his face made McLeroy realize the extent of his injury. His leg was almost totally severed below the knee.

McLeroy managed to apply his own tourniquet, and then called his own life flight medevac, which delivered him to a hospital within 45 minutes. This saved his life.

After 14 hours of surgery, McLeroy spent three days in intensive care.

About a week and a half later, his doctor walked asked him, “Well young man, what do ya think, what are we gonna do? Are we gonna save it or are we gonna take it?”

“Save what or take what?” asked McLeroy.

The doctor explained that in order to save the leg, McLeroy would have to undergo a three-year process of reconstructive surgery. Even so, the muscle that raises and lowers his foot could not be replaced, so he would not have use of his foot.

His other option was to have the leg amputated below the knee; with a prosthesis, he would be able to walk in three months. McLeroy said he decided in a heartbeat to “take it off.”

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Taken on April 20, 2009