WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Retired Lieutenant Ed Salau will never forget Nov. 15. Fourteen years ago Thursday, his leg was blown off in Iraq by a rocket-propelled grenade.
“An enemy shot an RPG at my vehicle. It took off my left leg and my gunner’s right leg, but we are both OK, and doing great,” said Salau.
Salau served in the Marine Corps for 11 years prior to joining the National Guard. In 2004, Salau was deployed with his unit in Iraq when his life-changing attack occurred. He and his gunnery sergeant spent their recovery at Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Fast forward to Thursday morning inside the Battleship North Carolina and Salau, standing tall, is greeted by fellow brothers in arms and a brand new all-terrain wheelchair he likes to call the Batmobile.
“Before this, I was sort of motivated by fear," Salau said. “I would avoid going to meetings, and ask to dial in or ask people to come to me for meetings. It was pretty tough getting around at work.”
Salau works at Camp Lejeune and has been advocating for those wounded in the line of service. He serves as the charitable organizations program coordinator for Wounded Warrior Battalion-East.
Freedom Alliance, an organization supporting military families, presented Salau with the customized, all-terrain wheelchair.
“I will use this thing during the work day now. I can just roll on in and be on time,” said Salau. “Then at home with my family, I can now go out on the beach...zoom around in this thing, chase my dog and even have him chase me.”
The Zoom chair would normally retail for more than $50,000.
“This is giving me so much freedom, so much mobility and just a new sense of normalcy,” Salau said.