Operation Rebound Goes The Extra Mile

Wounded Iraq war veterans compete in San Francisco triathlon
CBS
It was supposed to be impossible to escape from Alcatraz. But the athletes plunging into the cold water of San Francisco Bay weren't letting anything slow them down.

One of the swimmers didn't even let a Baghdad bomb that blew off her leg stop her.

First Lt. Melissa Stockwell finished ahead of plenty of competitors who had both legs and both arms, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports.

"For me, I don't need to be as good as them. I just want to be out there with 'em," Stockwell said.

Stockwell is part of Operation Rebound, a remarkable team of wounded Iraq veterans. Runner Andy Hatcher is a Marine who lost his foot to a roadside bomb.

"I tried to get out of the Humvee and then I was kind of like, 'oh, wait, I'm not moving,'" Hatcher said.

Rich Ingram of the Georgia National Guard has a prosthetic arm just for cycling.

"I was a little upset when I lost my arm," Ingram said. "I was by the Humvee and I was like, 'man, what am I gonna do? What am I gonna do now.'"

What these wounded warriors are battling now is any perception their lives are diminished by the loss of a limb. What better way to prove it?

In the triathlon, Stockwell swam the bay, Ingram bicycled 18 miles, and Hatcher finished the race with an eight-mile run. They are survivors who won't give up.

"We're really lucky to have what we have, and that's what you got to focus on," Hatcher said. "You've got to stay on the optimistic side. You can't start focusing on the dramatic negative aspects of it."

The flag decorating the top of Stockwell's high-tech leg is one way of saying she has no regrets about what she gave up for her country.

"It wasn't 'oh poor me and my life is over,'" she said. "It was just, 'ready to move on.'"

Using the same determination they took into battle, Team Rebound now focuses on recovery to show other injured vets how much is possible.

"You don't win if you don't set your goals, right?" Ingram asked with a grin.

Their goal is nothing less than to remain winners in life.