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Wounded warrior’s first tee shot symbolic of new life mission

U.S. Army Special Forces Captain Ben Harrow hits the ceremonial first tee shot to kick off the Allianz Championship at Broken Sound Club in Boca Raton, Fla. on Feb. 7.
(photo credit: Chris Trotman)

February 10, 2014

By Phil Stambaugh, PGA TOUR Staff

BOCA RATON, Fla.-  The tattoo running down the majority of his right arm is an artistic expression of his current life, a life that changed forever in the blink of an eye on May 15, 2012. Sketched in ink is a flower that symbolizes his wife, a fish that is his son and another fish with a tail that is cut off. The last fish is U.S. Army Special Forces Captain Ben Harrow, a decorated American hero, still self-motivated, and demonstrating purposefulness in every endeavor despite the loss of both legs in combat.

(photo credit:Chris Trotman)
Harrow is joined by Champions Tour players Steve Elkington (L) and Steve Pate (R)

It was only fitting last week that Harrow, still inspired by the words ‘duty, honor and country,’ hit the ceremonial opening tee shot at the Allianz Championship on Friday morning in front of his father-in-law, Sal Caragliano, and a number of other members and friends at The Old Course at Broken Sound. Caragliano and his wife founded the annual “Golf For America’s Bravest” tournament in 2011 where donations are raised for the Wounded Warrior Project and Tunnel To Towers Foundation, a partnership with the Gary Sinese Foundation that builds smart homes that address the individual needs of the most severely injured U.S. military personnel.

A native of Brooklyn, NY, Harrow played lacrosse in high school on a state championship team and again while attending the United States Military Academy at West Point. After one tour of duty in Afghanistan, he returned home and in 2008, he married his hometown sweetheart, Gina. In 2010, he and his wife became the proud parents of a newborn son, Peyton.  Life could not have been any better.

However, it all changed for Harrow on that day in mid-May 2012. Once again deployed to Afghanistan, Harrow was leading a team of Green Berets on an anti-terrorism mission when he stepped on an improvised explosive device. In the wake of the blast, his training took over as he had only enough time to hand his medical pouch to his medic before passing out and fighting for his life. He lost both legs above the knee, a large portion of flesh from his right forearm and two fingers.

Today, Harrow is a true hero, rising above the cruel hand he’s been dealt in life and turning his misfortune into a positive for others. He’s a shining example of how someone can cope with a difficult situation and use focus and determination to climb the next mountain in an effort to reach the top.

“I hope that people know that there are guys in my situation that are really severely injured like me that had to give up a home. We now live in Maryland, but we were living in a beautiful home right by Pinehurst, North Carolina, a mecca for golf, and we had to start over from scratch,” Harrow said. “Life goes on. You’ve got to pick up your sack and keep on going to the objective.”

Harrow’s other goal is also to one day walk again with prosthetics and continue playing the game he loves. “I actually think I’m a better golfer now without legs. A lot of people told me that I wouldn’t be able to wear prosthetics and I’d be in a wheelchair the rest of my life but to me, as a college athlete and a Green Beret, that’s an unacceptable answer,” he said.

Harrow has since found out about a procedure where doctors lengthen the bone to be able to fit into prosthetics.  He’s currently undergoing a process of femur lengthening which will eventually get him out of his wheelchair and back walking. “It’s like golf. I have a handicap now, so I have to be determined in other areas of my life. In my mind, I’m still an athlete,” he said.

Harrow received a Purple Heart at home plate of Yankee Stadium from manager Joe Girardi. Since receiving this honor to go with his three Bronze Stars, he continues to hit home runs in life, staying in the fight and moving on.

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