Defying Sky-High Odds

Dan Metzdorf never stops moving. And the sky's the limit. Nothing gets him down … except gravity.

Metsdorf sky jumps for the U.S. Army, a member of its elite Golden Knights, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.

How he - literally - landed on this team at all is a remarkable soldier's story.

"I thought it was a joke at first," Metzdorf said. "I was like, who is this guy? Does he know I have one leg?"

One leg. Four years ago, Metzdorf lost his other one. He was on foot patrol in Iraq when a roadside bomb ripped through him.

"Did you hear the explosion?" Strassmann asked.

"Yes," he said.

And did he see it?

"Yes. Loudest, brightest, hottest thing ever. Ever in the world," he said.

His amputated leg needed 28 surgeries.

"It's all carbon-fiber held on by a vacuum system," he said.

He spent hours in the gym rebuilding strength, and in a wind tunnel learning balance.

The Golden Knights had no idea how far he could take it.

Their jumps are spectacular and acrobatic. But on true grit, he made the Knights reserve team.

"This is not a fake leg," he said. "this is not a leg that the Army bought me. This is my leg. And this is the leg I have today with. So I just keep going from there."

As a Golden Knight, Metzdorf wants to do tandem jumps, like the one the team convinced Strassmann to try.

We climbed to 13,500 feet for a quick leap from terrifying to exhilarating.

Freefall comes at you 130 mph. It's an unbelievable adrenaline rush.

A two-minute thrill-ride, whether you have four limbs or only three.

"You landed on your legs; I landed on mine," he said.

And what a landing. Refusing to give up or give in.

"This is my dream; this is my job; this is my career; this is what I want to do for America," Metzdorf said.

What Dan Metzdorf has done, is defy sky-high odds.

  • Mark Strassmann
    Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.