An Afghanistan war veteran is inspiring his countrymen with an impressively patriotic finish to Monday’s Boston Marathon.
Pennsylvania Army National Guard veteran Earl Granville has competed with a hand-bike in numerous marathons in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, and New York since he lost the lower half of his left leg to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan in 2008, WCVB reports.
— Scott Sullivan (@SullyBunz) April 17, 2017
But on Monday, the member of Achilles International’s Freedom Team did something a little different.
Granville completed the Boston Marathon without the bike, relying instead on a prosthetic leg and the help of a guide who accompanied him along the hilly 26-mile course. Throughout the race, he was besieged by grateful spectators, who stopped him for hugs and cheered him on.
“I don’t know what they’re inspired about,” Granville said in a Facebook Live broadcast at the 16 mile mark. “I’m walking.”
Ten miles later, after trekking up the course’s infamous “heart break hill,” Granville apparently decided to provide an example of real inspiration. The veteran handed the large American flag he had carried along the course to his guide, then hoisted the woman on his shoulders and carried her across the finish line as on-lookers recorded the jaw-dropping feat with their cell phones.
“This may be the moment of the day. A man with a prosthetic leg carrying a woman and an American flag over the finish line,” a WBZ host remarked. “As we mentioned moments ago, they take down the clock around this hour.
“You don’t need a clock to know this is an incredible Boston Marathon run,” he said.
“If you were down here at the finish line you would think that a celebrity just crossed because they are cheering for him,” a co-host said. “A cheer much deserved.”
Granville was humble about all of the attention when he posted to Facebook after the race.
“So, apparently I did something today,” he wrote. “Thank you everybody for your support. I’ll post more during this week … but until then, once again, thanks for all the encouragement. I’m so very grateful.”
The race is only the latest in a long list of physical challenges Granville has overcome since his stint as an infantryman with the National Guard, which included tours with Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
“In the summer of 2008 while on a patrol in Zormat, Afghanistan, his vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb which resulted in the amputation of his left leg through the knee. His comrades, Specialist Derek Holland of Wind Gap, Pennsylvania and Major Scott Hagerty of Stillwater, Oklahoma were killed in action,” according to his Facebook biography.
“After his injury, Earl found himself competing in many sports as an adaptive athlete such as Mono-ski, Sled Hockey, GoRuck endurance Challenges and Spartan Races. … He has competed in the Boston, Detroit, Chicago, New York and Marine Corps Marathon all on a hand bicycle, has ran two half marathons alongside (Operation Enduring Warrior), is a finisher of the 2016 Bataan Death Memorial March, and has completed the 60 hour endurance event, the Spartan Agoge.”
Granville, a recipient of the Combat Infantryman Badge and Purple Heart, is a team member of Operation Enduring Warrior, ambassador of the veteran founded clothing line Oscar Mike, and an advocate for mental health services for veterans.
“Earl … speaks publicly about the importance of finding help in mental distress from returning to combat after the passing of his twin brother, Staff Sergeant Joseph Granville, who took his own life December of 2010,” the bio reads.