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My name is Cody Allen Evans. I was born May 23, 1984 to my mother Regina Evans in a small country community called Speedwell, Tennessee. Like most boys in Speedwell, I had a fairly normal childhood playing video games and baseball. We lived with my grandparents until I was 6 years old and lived essentially next door ever since. Some of my best childhood memories are with my grandfather.

 

He taught me how to shoot and respect firearms. When I was 4 years old, he bought my first firearm--a BB gun. Several years later he bought me a 410 shotgun. I think this is what started my love of guns. He passed away just before my 15th birthday and I lost one of the biggest influences in my life.

I graduated from Powell Valley High School in 2002. I've always had a love for cars and I attended Tennessee Tech to study to be an auto body technician. I had always wanted to join the Marines, but for some personal reasons, I hadn't. After working at a couple different places for a few years, I was wanting to make a change. I wanted to make a difference. So, after much thought and consideration, I joined the Marines as a reservist in December 2009.

 

In May 2011, my unit was activated and trained for deployment to Afghanistan. In July, we deployed and were scheduled to return stateside in February 2012. On December 15, 2011, while on patrol and sweeping for IED's, I was injured by an exploding IED. At that time, both legs were amputated, one at the knee and one above the knee. I had broken bones in my right hand and had to have pins placed in it to help it heal. I also had burns on both hands and arms, a pulmonary embolism and a broken coccyx.

 

After five days of being hospitalized in Afghanistan and Germany, I was stable enough to be flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Once there, my left leg had to be amputated farther leaving me with a hip disarticulation, which means my leg was removed at the hip joint. I spent two months as an inpatient and then was able to continue my recovery as an outpatient, staying in apartments specially adapted for wounded warriors. While at Walter Reed, I spent five days a week in doctor appointments, and physical and occupational therapy. In physical therapy, I had to learn to walk using prosthetics, and regain my strength and balance. I worked out and practiced walking every day, even when I didn't want to. In occupational therapy, we worked on dexterity and gaining strength back in my hand. These were very hard but inspiring days. My therapists and prosthetics were the best in the world. They were always pushing me to do better and I am very grateful for all they did for me.

After spending a little over 11 months at Walter Reed, I was able to come home in November 2012 and formally retired from the Marine Corps in January 2013. I spent a few months getting used to being home and preparing for my future. I already knew that I wanted to go to college. So, in the spring of 2013, I was accepted at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee, with plans of becoming a history teacher. I started college in the fall semester and look forward to the next chapter of my life.

 

In July 2013, I received by service dog and best friend, Sir William, aka Willie,from Smoky Mountain Service Dogs. He is my trusted and constant companion. Having him at my side gives me comfort that's hard to put into words.