Soldier Amputees: Losing Limbs to Save Lives

The horror in every soldier’s life is to lose their limbs or worse, to never come back to their families alive.

Most of the time, soldiers plod the unknown rugged terrains with heavy gear, fatigue, and scared of the unknown danger to fulfill their duty. In accomplishing their mission, they expect in one way or another to have direct action against the enemies of the state. While others paid the ultimate sacrifice in doing their duty; other military personnel suffered several injuries and some were not fortunate enough to keep their limbs.

In April 2019, Corporal Ariel Reyes from the 28th Infantry Battalion lost his left hand during a fierce battle in Lupon, Davao Oriental. “Na-snipe at sumabog ang M203 sa harapan ko. Doon ko nakita na wala na ang baril ko at ang mas masakit, hindi ko na rin nakita ang kamay ko ,” said Corporal Reyes as he vividly recalled their military operation in Sitio Calatagan.

“Napatingala ako sa langit at nabigkas ang mga salitang ‘Panginoon, hindi ko pa oras. Hindi ako susuko, kaya ko pa at may naghihintay pa sa akin.’ Gumapang kami ng iba kong kasamahan papunta sa safety area. Doon nakita ko ang iba ko pang mga kasamahan na sugatan din,” he added.

“Habang nilalapatan [ako] ng first aid, pinilit kong hindi pumikit dahil takot akong baka hindi na ako magising. Ipinahanap ko sa mga kasama ko yung baril at kamay ko pero hanggang ngayon hindi na narecover dahil wasak at durog na,” said Corporal Reyes thinking about his wedding ring which he wears on his missing hand.

Despite the daunting situation, Corporal Reyes choose courage over fear while waiting for rescue to come. “Sa ganitong sitwasyon, importanteng hindi ka panghinaan ng loob para hindi ma-low morale ang iyong mga kasamahan,” he said. When they arrived at the hospital, Corporal Reyes learned that aside from losing his left hand, his fingers on his right hand and his eardrums were also severely damaged.

In March 2019, two Marawi heroes namely Technical Sergeant Michael M. Dela Vega and Sergeant Renato Q. Eucogco of the 1st Infantry Division received their artificial limbs. Their legs were amputated when a nearby improvised explosive device went off while they were on a mission in Marawi in August 2017. Other soldiers who also received the prostheses sustained their injuries in operations against the Communist NPA Terrorists, the Abu Sayyaf Group, and other lawless elements across the mission areas.

For the year 2020, 45 battle amputated soldiers were given prostheses to help them get back on their old way of life. In the same year, many soldiers suffered major injuries and lost their limbs while performing their duties. At present, a total of 53 battle and non-battle related injuries are currently admitted at the Army General Hospital where they focus on the treatment of injuries and improving their condition.

To help soldiers like Corporal Reyes, new prosthetic limbs are provided and the Philippine Army coordinates with private institutions such as the Ottobock Philippines Corp., an orthotics and prosthetics service provider. Aside from other medical treatment and assistance; soldiers undergo therapy and rehabilitation programs to familiarize themselves with their new prostheses. This forms part of the recovery process of regaining their strength and motor skills.

These soldiers are not only recovering physically, they also have unseen wounds that need healing. Love, care and support from their families and colleagues is really important.

For now, amputee soldiers like Corporal Reyes only proved one thing — they never turned their back from their love and duty to the country. These amputee heroes may have lost their limbs; but they will rise again with the Philippine Army who holds them up and walks beside them. #