PETE DEES TUPELO MS
MIKE (HAMMER) STAFFORD
Thanks for being a friend ,I am honored to know you and grateful for your service to this great country "SEMPER FI" brother
Janna Shannon, MS
So proud and honored to say that Mike is my husband!
LACY CRUM WALNUT,MS
THANKS MICHAEL FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE.ENJOY LIFE TO THE FULLEST.GOD BLESS YOU AND THANKS FOR SERVING SO THAT WE CAN HAVE FREEDOM.
Jon Okolona MS
Hey Mike,just wanted to tell you how proud I am to have you for my cousin. I haven't told you before but I am glad to have you in my life.If you need anything you can count on me.
LEARNING TO DRIVE AGAIN
SGT Michael Stafford of Shannon, MS
Wounded in Iraq
Michael Stafford knows a thing or two about driving a golf ball down the fairway. He’s an accomplished golfer who regularly shoots par or close or to it. Michael also knows a thing or two about driving a tank and a hummer. From 1992 to 1999, he spent seven years in the National Guard as a tank commander in an M1A1 Abrams tank. He then reenlisted in 2004 when several of his friends were activated as a part of the 155th Mississippi Heavy Brigade Combat Team. They deployed in March 2005 to take part in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
For the next five months, SGT Michael Stafford was stationed in Iskandariyah, near the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad. He was a part of a security element that conducted house raids, seizing weapons and flushing out insurgents. His team also investigated IED related accidents and deaths in the region.
On the night of August 8, 2005, SGT Stafford was driving a Humvee when his wheels an IED, blowing a hole in the vehicle. The explosion also tore off SGT Stafford’s leg at the left knee. As the vehicle burned and Iraqi insurgents fired on his crew from outside, SGT Stafford continued to bleed from his wound. He knew he needed to tie it off if he was to survive. In the midst of the chaos and shock, SGT Stafford fought to maintain his focus. Even though he lost more than half of his blood, somehow a tourniquet was applied to his injury, saving his life. To this day SGT Stafford does not know who it was. He credits an angel with applying the tourniquet.
SGT Stafford spent the next year recovering from his injury, spending time in an Iraqi field hospital, Landstuhl Regiona l Medical Center in Germany, and then Walter Reed Army Medical Center near Washington, D.C. He battled physically to learn how to live without his leg through rigorous rehab. But it was the mental and emotional aspects that challenged him more. Even though he experienced intense episodes of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), he fought hard to keep a positive attitude.
To this day, he struggles with recurring nightmares of being trapped as well as feelings of anxiety. But you would never know it by meeting him. You might think the first thing you would notice about SGT Stafford is the prosthetic limb that has replaced his left leg. Actually, the thing that stands out the most is how optimistic and uplifting he is. It is a mindset he carries into his life and onto the golf course.
Since his injury, SGT Stafford has spearheaded numerous charity efforts on behalf of wounded veterans. He is involved with Caddies for the Cure and Birdies for the Brave, a Phil Mickelson event in Memphis. He has also helped lead Tee It Up for the Troops. His favorite event though was playing in the Warrior Open in Dallas, a tournament hosted by President George Bush for wounded warriors. He finished second in last year’s event and plans to play in it again this year. Where some people use golf as a recreational activity, SGT Stafford uses it to help other veterans who have found themselves in the same circumstances he was in several years ago. Showing others that he can do everything they can do on a golf course, and sometimes even better, inspires both the wounded and the unwounded.
There is one thing far more important than golf that his attitude of helping others brought him. A few years ago, Michael Stafford was getting ready to walk into a store when a thief dashed past him with a purse. It took a few moments to realize what was happening, but when he heard a woman exclaim that her purse was stolen, SGT Stafford went into action. He chased the thief by foot and then by car for several miles. He was able to get a good clear look at the man’s face. When the chase became too dangerous to continue, he returned to the store to identify the man on the security camera. He met the woman who’s purse was stolen and told her to contact him if she needed any assistance with the police.
That phone call came later in the week. SGT Stafford went out of his way to assist the police and the woman. The woman was impressed by his courage and his kindness. They spent a little while talking about the incident, but strayed into other topics. A few days later, SGT Stafford was on his first date following his injury. A few months later, and SGT Stafford had married the woman whose purse he tried to recover. The police weren’t able to find the thief or her purse, but in the process SGT Stafford found his wife. Now Michael and Janna Stafford laugh about the way they met.
For SGT Stafford, he said he would not change a thing about the way his life has unfolded. Given the opportunity, he would return to Iraq and do his part in defending America's freedom. His words were simply, "It's all been worth it." When you ask Janna if it was worth it to lose her purse in order to gain her relationship with Michael, her response is just the same. When you look at the way Michael and Janna Stafford look at life, you realize they focus far more on what they have gained rather than what they have lost. Michael Stafford has made it his personal mission to help others focus on life in the same way.
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