Name: Brandon Lingle
Returned from: Iraq and Afghanistan
Hometown: Lompoc, CA
Milblog: USAF Seven Summits Challenge
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Rob Disney has climbed
countless mountains, both real and metaphorical, and lately when he says he’s
preparing to conquer his personal Mt. Everest, he means it.
35-year-old pararescueman, who’s survived a
gunshot wound to the face, traumatic brain injury and a broken leg from
helicopter falls, torn biceps and a broken arm from parachute mishaps, and a
helicopter crash, is one of three wounded
or injured Airmen trekking to Mt. Everest Base Camp with the Air Force 7
Summits Challenge Team in April.
Master Sgt. Disney and his teammates will
provide support for the 6 Airmen set to make history when they summit Mt.
Everest and become the first U.S. military team to scale the mountain and the
first military team in the world to successfully climb the seven summits.
importantly, these Airmen battling trauma and adversity will exemplify
resiliency by testing themselves in the wilderness on a 14-day, 75 mile trek,
taking them from 9,000 feet to 17,590 feet above sea level. Driven by the
deaths of friends in war, and fueled by personal goals, these Airmen are also
motivated by the desire to raise awareness and help vets as well as families of
crucial to remember and support the many sets and family members affected by
our wars,” said Maj. Rob Marshall, Air Force 7 Summits challenge leader and
co-founder. “In these days of budget issues and other distractions, it's easy
to focus on the negative. Our
mission is to show people that with some innovation and determination, tempered
by an appropriate amount of risk management, they can accomplish any number of
positive goals that naysayers deem unobtainable.”
trip is another example that there are no limits except those which we place on
ourselves,” said Senior Master Sgt. Disney, currently assigned to Air Combat
Command Headquarters at Langley Air Force Base,
Va., “Dreams are the seeds of reality; the bigger we dream, the bigger our
reality becomes. With the courage to let go of our inhibitions and assumptions,
there is nothing we can’t achieve.”
current Air Force 7 Summits Challenge members are:
Maj. Rob Marshall, 34, a CV-22 pilot, from Mercer Island, Wash., stationed in
Capt. Andrew Ackles, 29, a TH-1N instructor pilot, from Ashland, Ore.,
stationed at Fort Rucker, Ala.
Capt. Marshall Klitzke, 30, a KC-135R pilot from Lemmon, S.D., currently an
instructor pilot at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Captain Kyle Martin, 29, a T-38A instructor pilot and mission commander from
Manhattan, Kan., currently flying at Langley Air Force Base, Va.
Capt. Colin Merrin, 28, a GPS satellite operations mission commander from
Santee, Calif., stationed at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.
Staff Sgt. Nick Gibson, 36, a reserve pararescueman and physician-assistant
student from Gulf Breeze, Fla., stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.
or injured Everest Base Camp trekkers
- Capt. Augustin “Gus” Viani, 28, a Combat Rescue Officer, stationed at
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.
- Senior Master Sgt. Robert Disney, 35, a pararescueman, from Bethany, Ill.,
stationed at Air Combat Command Headquarters at Langley Air Force Base, Va.
- Master Sgt. Gino (last name and details withheld for operational security)
base camp trekkers
- Maj. Malcolm Scott Schongalla, 34, Air Guard LC-130 pilot, from Lebanon,
N.H., serving at Stratton Air National Guard base, N.Y.
Capt. Megan Harkins, 27, Multi-Mission Space Operations Center Ground Engineer,
from San Ramon, Calif.,
stationed at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.
- Capt. Heidi Kent, 31, Reserve Payload Systems Operator, from Conway, Mass., stationed at Schriever
Dr. Edie Marshall, 38, veterinarian and public health expert from Davis, Calif.
truly believe in the medicinal value of sweat and mountains," says Maj. Marshall. "These two things have probably saved my
life. How cool would it be if doctors prescribed outdoor
adventures just like they prescribe anti-depressants and other pills?”
Air Force 7 Summits challenge is among several programs working to help vets
through the outdoors, including Soldiers to Summits, a group “which helps
disabled veterans shatter personal barriers and reclaim lives by using
mountaineering.” The 2012 documentary High
Ground chronicled a Soldiers
to Summits expedition on Mt. Lobuche, Nepal.
the Sierra Club’s Military Families and Veterans Initiative linked up with
Veterans Expeditions to introduce a group
of veterans to ice climbing in Montana’s Hyalite Canyon with renowned climber
K2 Adventures is sponsoring a
veterans’ climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania in November.
the Air Force 7 Summits challenge team is set to summit within days of the 50th
anniversary of the U.S.’s first Mt. Everest expedition. In 1963, the
history-making climbers returned home to “shrugs of indifference” reported the
Associated Press in an article about a recent reunion. The leader of the
expedition, Norm Dyhrenfurth, 94, said, "Americans, when I first raised
it, they said, 'Well, Everest, it's been done. Why do it again?’”
shrugs of indifference likely met the intensifying American involvement in
Vietnam in 1963. As Life magazine's history of the war puts it: “Vietnam was on people’s radar, of
course, but not as a constant, alarming blip. Military families were learning
first-hand (before everyone else, as they always do) that this was no ‘police
action.' But for millions of Americans, Vietnam was a mystery, a
riddle that no doubt would be resolved and forgotten in time: a little place
far away where inscrutable strangers were fighting over... something.’”
years on, during the death-throes of America’s longest war, the Afghan odyssey,
similar shrugs of indifference often meet veterans, military members, and their
families, as the pain and suffering simmers in the background thousands of
any luck, the Air Force
7 Summits 2013 Everest expedition will capture people’s imaginations with the
potential for achieving greatness. The combat veterans who face this mountain
are ready as they finalize their training across the country. Barry C. Bishop,
the National Geographic photographer
on the 1963 expedition wrote, “Everest
is a harsh and hostile immensity. Whoever challenges it declares war. He must
mount his assault with the skill and ruthlessness of a military operation. And
when the battle ends, the mountain remains unvanquished. There are no true
victors, only survivors.”
With veteran survivors like
Senior Master Sgt. Disney on their side, the sky is the limit for the warrior
mountaineers of the Air Force 7 Summits team.
The views expressed here are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Air Force, Department of Defense or United States government.