SSG Wallace Fanene
Army SSG Wallace Fanene was on his 2nd deployment in September 2007 when he lost his right leg above the knee and his right arm below the elbow in an IED blast in Kirkuk, Iraq. On one of his last scheduled missions during a fourteen-month-long deployment, SSG Fanene and his platoon were dropped by Blackhawk helicopters into the province of Kirkuk. While patrolling near a village, the team was called to a halt and began pulling security. Upon pushing forward, SSG Fanene was hit by an IED blast, causing severe damage to his right eardrum and immediately engulfing the lower half of his body with a burning sensation as he suffered traumatic amputations to two of his limbs. Quick reaction by his roommate and Team Leader helped prepare Wallace for the medevac. His last memory before falling unconscious was hearing the voices of those who worked frantically to save him telling him, “You’ll make it…just hold on.”
Airlifted to Balad, Wallace was still unconscious while in Landstuhl, Germany, waking to the sound of his wife’s voice three days later at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. As he looked at his wrapped limbs, he knew that his leg was gone, but did not realize he had lost his hand and lower right arm as well until he was told. Transferred to Balboa Hospital in California, Wally was pleased to be nearer to his home and his family, spending a total of 18 months in hospitals before his release.
A life-long surfer, SSG Fanene began surfing again post-injury as part of his therapies. He mentors other injured veterans as well, making sure that anyone who wants to surf has the opportunity to do so. Wally enjoys Jiu Jitsu, weight training, running in marathons, snowboarding, and swimming. He most enjoys spending time with his wife, Scarlet and their young son and daughter. He says he is most thankful for the ability to carry on a somewhat “normal” lifestyle as a father and husband, celebrating every day he has on this earth.
When asked what owning a specially adapted home would mean to him SSG Fanene stated, “It will be life-changing to have a specially adapted home. My daily living will be improved tremendously by having hallways that are wide enough for my wheelchair to fit through and no stairs that require me to hop or seek assistance from my wife to descend. I will be able to do more household chores and will be able to go to my children in the middle of the night if they need me; something my wife has had to do for them since my injuries. This home will take away the last margin of struggle I have had to obtain my normal life again. Thank you for all of your support and assistance. The support I have received has been my guiding light through my recovery. To know that someone cares so much to offer them a home that is specially adapted to suit their needs is s a blessing that goes above and beyond.”