Army veteran refuses to let loss of legs keep him from riding

Posted at 9:46 PM, Sep 15, 2013
and last updated 2013-09-15 23:46:40-04

WEST POINT, Utah  – A local Army veteran always dreamed of riding motorcycles, even after he had both of his legs amputated following an explosion in Iraq.

Darrell Isaac Jensen joined the Army in 2005 and became a medic.

"At a young age I was really introduced to it,” he said. “Helping people is something that I've always wanted to do. I really thought that's what I want to do ultimately: I want to help people."

And even when an explosion took his legs from him, Jensen remained focused on helping others.

"I got blown up on November 9, 2008,” he said. “Three of us walk into a building, and one of my buddies opened up a refrigerator and it went boom. And I assisted, I put tourniquets on people with one hand, and then I put two on one guy, I gave them all my morphine, and then took care of myself. It was definitely an interesting experience."

Jensen said the traumatic incident changed his life for the better.

"I wouldn't change a thing,” he said. “…It was the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I learned so many things. I got closer to my wife and my son."

Jensen retired after the explosion, and he turned to a new family to fill the void left by the Army.

"I found the American Legion, and that hole was not only filled, but it was filled and then spilled over," he said.

Jensen and his family got a new wheelchair accessible home last year—one built in just 72 hours by an organization called Homes for our Troops. When they moved in, The American Legion and Patriot Guard riders were there to welcome him into his new home in West Point.

“I was just kind of in awe of these men and their motorcycles,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh god. I wish I could do that. I wish I could do that so bad.’”

Bart Young rides with the American Legion, and he said he and the combat veteran bonded over their love of the bikes.

"I went up and introduced myself, and he told me then that he had always dreamed of riding a motorcycle, a Harley,” Young said. “After that, we all bonded with him, and he's one of us."

And Jensen was able to fulfill his dreams of riding after the American Legion helped him get a three-wheeled motorcycle.

"It's a Can-Am Spyder, and it's the RS-S model,” he said. “It's all sporty, and I like it. Everything I need is right here. The only thing I had to do on it, the only thing I had to do was put a hand brake on it. That's it. Everything else was great."

Young and his fellow riders said Jensen is an inspiration as well as a friend.

"He's a patriot, and in my book he's a national hero,” Young said.

And like many who love motorcycles, Jensen has a strong sense of defiance.

"They tried to kill me,” he said. “They tried to kill us, and they didn't because you can't stop me."