Who’s Hiking?

September 2021 Team

We had the team set and we were all ready to go for September 2020, but due to COVID concerns we have had to push the expedition back a year to September 2021. The team is willing to wait a year to make it a better experience overall!

PO3 Travis Livingston was a Navy Corpsman who was injured by an IED blast in Afghanistan in July of 2010. Due to the blast, Travis suffered a traumatic brain injury, as well as injuries to his back ultimately requiring a spine fusion. He works out at a gym in the Dallas area which specializes in rehabilitating veterans called Adaptive Training Foundation. He owns a contract bartending business.

Unfortunately Travis passed away in Sept of 2020. His good friend Josh Sagar (see bio below) will be hiking in his honor and Travis will be with us in spirit during the expedition.

Sgt Josh Sagar was a in the US Army as was injured from a training accident in Australia. He was parachuting and his parachute collapsed about 50 ft above the ground causing him to fall from that height. He suffered injuries to his hips and his right femur and knee had to be reconstructed. He was medically retired after 8 years and is currently married and has just completed his MBA. He has participated in the Bataan Death March and works out at Crossfit. He also volunteers as a mentor at the Adaptive Training Foundation.

SFC Randy Nantz was a US Army Green Beret until he was medically retired in 2012. He joined the Army as he wanted to do something after the attacks on 9/11 to our country. He had two overseas tours in Iraq and was injured by an IED as a shape charge from the explosion hit him and damaged his leg as well as caused numerous burns. He eventually had his leg amputated below the knee. He has two children in their 20’s and he enjoys all outdoor activities. He also works as a mentor for the Adaptive Training Foundation and he participates in Spartan races.

SSgt (ret) Kisha Makerney is medically retired from the Oklahoma Army National Guard. She suffered an injury due to a motorcycle accident after she returned from a deployment to Iraq where she served as a combat engineer. As a result of the accident she had her leg amputated below the knee. She eventually returned to Iraq and served as an amputee. She is a renowned shooter and was selected to be on the US Army marksmanship team. She has also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Priscilla Huling is a Gold Star widow of US Marine Corp TSgt John (JP) Huling who was killed in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan on May 6th, 2012. JP was an EOD technician who also had served a tour of duty in Iraq. Priscilla has been an ambassador for the EOD Warrior Foundation, she also volunteers for Homes for our Troops. She works as a pharmacy technician and in her spare time she likes to work out and run races. She has run numerous marathons, and she does so in honor of those who have fallen in combat.

Valerie Schmitz is the Gold Star widow of Lieutenant David Schmitz who died on June 30th 2020 in an F-16 accident. Val loves the outdoors and also loves hiking. She lives in the rocky mountains and has always wanted to hike the Grand Canyon as a bucket list item. She also enjoys photography. She is part of an organization set up in her husbands name: https://www.ltschmitzfoundation.org The purpose of the organization is to help young men and women overcome obstacles as they strive to pursue a career in aviation.

Sara Wilkinson is the Gold Star widow of US Navy Seal, Senior Chief Chad Wilkinson who died in Oct 2018, he had 21 years and 11 overseas deployments in the military. Sara has a teen age daughter and son that she is raising in Virginia Beach. She enjoys working out at Crossfit, in fact she is even a trainer for them! She travels extensively and enjoys reading.

As wingmen assisting in the expedition will be Lt. Col. (Ret) Steve Connolly and Brian Miller, whose bios can be found below.

September 2018 Expedition:

We are in the planning phase for our next expedition which will be in September 2018. We are in the process of completing our roster, but the following will be on the team:

Sergeant Major James Norris is stationed at Fort Bragg and is retiring soon after 30 years with the US Army. He has been on five deployments to Iraq as well as deployments to Bosnia and Saudi Arabia. He was injured in Aug of 2013 in a motorcycle accident. As a result of that accident, his left leg was amputated below the knee. Since recovering from that injury, he has been able to complete the US Army Ten Miles run and he enjoys biking to stay in shape. He also enjoys golfing, fishing and spending time with his three grandchildren. He is married with two adult children.

Sergeant First Class Jacob Green has been in the US Army for 14 years. He has had four deployments to Afghanistan and two other worldwide deployments fighting the Global War on Terror. He was injured during combat operations in 2015. As a result of his injury, his right leg had to be amputated above the knee. He still enjoys playing golf as well as surfing and teaching other combat veterans how to surf. He is married with three young boys at home.

Lance Corporal Ryan Zimmerer is medically retired from the US Marine Corp. He was a machine gunner in the infantry and was injured in a training accident in 2009. He fell while fast rope training aboard a US Navy ship in the south china sea and sustained some major injuries to his left leg. After many years of trying to salvage the leg, he eventually made the decision to amputate below the knee in 2016.  He now is going to college and is earning a degree in psychology. He also enjoys working out, hunting and fishing.

Chief Warrant Officer Aaron Kendle is a US Navy Seal. He has been in the Navy for 15 years and has been on six deployments overseas. His left arm was amputated below the elbow as a result of injuries he sustained after an ATV accident in 2017. He is married and has one child. He enjoys playing golf, showing others that his injury won’t slow him down and spending time with his family.

Sydney Mulder is the Gold Star widow of US Navy Seal, Chief Special Warfare Operator William Mulder, who died in June of 2017. Sydney is a passionate advocate for veteran mental health and suicide assistance. She is raising three small children ages eight, seven and two. She also shares her story through a non-profit her brother started called Sound-Off. Sydney enjoys singing and performing in her free time. She also loves the outdoors and camping.

Kristin Anderson is a Gold Star sister of US Army SPC Corey Shea who was killed in Iraq in 2008. Kristin is passionate about assisting veterans and she works for the Wounded Warrior Project in San Antonio. She has completed the Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon in 2018. She loves cats and dogs she is also engaged to be married in October.  She enjoys hiking, so she is very happy to be part of this expedition.

As wingmen assisting in the expedition will be Lt. Col. (Ret) Steve Connolly and Brian Miller, whose bios can be found below.

September 2016 Expedition:

Officer Steve Martin was a military policeman and spent a total of eight years in the army, both active duty and in the guard. In 2008, he suffered his injury from an IED explosion while riding in a Humvee in Afghanistan. As a contractor for the state department, he was in Afghanistan for almost six months and was tasked to train the Afghan police in the field with the US Army. He became a double amputee after 14 surgeries in 2009, losing both legs below the knee.  Steve is currently an active duty officer for the Arizona Department of Safety. He has climbed Mt. Denali, Mt. Kilimanjaro and participates in marathons frequently. In 2014, he successfully summited Mount Kilimanjaro with the Kilimanjaro Warrior team.

SSgt (Ret) Mike Malarsie is a medically retired Air Force Tactical Air Control Party Specialist. He was blinded by an IED explosion while on foot patrol in Afghanistan in January of 2010, unfortunately four of the soldiers he was on patrol with did not survive that encounter. Since his retirement in 2013, he has married and now has children. He also is an avid snowboarder and motivational speaker.

Sgt (Ret) Mike Owens was a Marine deployed to Iraq in 2005. While on a convoy heading to Fallujah his 7 ton vehicle rolled over causing Mike to sustain some major injuries. Mike was hospitalized for about two years and underwent close to 30 surgeries. He has had to have his legs surgically repaired and ended up having his right arm amputated above the elbow. He currently tries to stay very active and has completed the Bataan Memorial Death March in New Mexico, he also participates in one armed bow hunting.

Sgt (Ret) Matt Melancon is a veteran of the United States Army.  He was an infantryman who served a combat tour in Iraq.  While on a second combat tour in Afghanistan in 2011, the vehicle he was riding in was destroyed by an IED. As a result of the explosion and after many operations, Matt became a double amputee losing both legs below the knee.  After being medically retired from the army, he has become a motivational speaker and is working to be part of the Paralympic snowboarding team.

Sgt (Ret) Juan Arredondo is a veteran of the United States Army. He was wounded in Iraq in 2005 when his vehicle hit an IED. He sustained numerous injuries requiring over 20 surgeries, finally resulting in the loss of his left arm below the elbow and he also requires a brace on his lower right leg. He currently works as an advocate for the Wounded Warrior project, aiding soldiers who are suffering from the effects of their wartime deployments. He enjoys staying very active, and his hobby involves shooting whenever he is able.

LCpl (Ret) Tim Horton is a veteran who served with Fox 2/5 in the Marine Corp and was deployed to Iraq in September 2004. He was injured when his  Humvee hit an IED. As a result of the explosion, he sustained many injuries the most significant eventually leading to the loss of his left leg below the knee. He has had to undergo over 50 surgeries but it won’t slow him down. He has participated in Bataan Death March the last five years and enjoys playing softball in his free time.

SSG (Ret) Frank Wasson is a nine year veteran of the United States Army. In 2007 he had a combat tour in Iraq with 2nd Stryker Calvary Regiment as a Rifle Team Leader and in 2010 he had a combat tour in Afghanistan with 101st Airborne Division as a Weapons Squad Leader in the Infantry. While on a mounted patrol with his unit in Afghanistan, his convoy was ambushed. An enemy rocket penetrated his vehicle and struck him in the left leg. As a result of the impact of the rocket, his leg was amputated below the knee. He currently resides in Salem, Oregon where he is a member of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, he coaches youth baseball, enjoys outdoor activities, and is pursuing his college degree.

SSG (Ret) Pete Quintanilla is a retired US Army veteran. He was injured in a live fire exercise in Panama. As a result of his injury, eventually his left leg was amputated below the knee. He is an avid outdoorsman and has even summited Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. He also enjoys mentoring other disabled veterans.

Tammy Heniser is a U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force veteran who served three tours of duty in Iraq as an Air Force Trauma Nurse. While in the Emergency Department USAF Hospital Balad she assisted Medical Teams that were credited with saving the lives of well over 95% of wounded US and Coalition Forces. It was also during this time that the impact of not being able to offer the same level of care to civilians including children injured as collateral damage began to take its toll and she was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD. Tammy is currently working on a Masters in Clinical Social Work with a goal of helping others with PTSD-related issues. Tammy is an avid biker and has participated in several cross country 100 mile-plus rides including an International Help For Hero’s 350-plus mile WW-II Battle Field ride from Paris to Normandy.

Nicole Roundy, In 1994, at just eight years old, Nicole was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma, a form of bone cancer. After aggressive chemo therapy treatment, she chose to amputate her right leg above-the-knee. In 2006 she became the first above-knee amputee to compete in adaptive snowboarding; taking home a silver medal from the United States National Championships. In 2012 she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and pursued a seasonal career in the outdoor industry. She is a motivational speaker and an advocate for both The National Ability Center and The Challenged Athletes Foundation.

R.B. Helterbrand was diagnosed with a brain tumor in January 2014. He underwent two surgeries, three months of chemotherapy, and two months of radiation on his brain and spine. The tumor was eradicated and the cancer appears to be in remission. He now works at an accounting firm in Colleyville, Texas. R.B. is an avid skier, has hiked the Camino de Santiago trail in Spain, worked on a ranch in Montana, and is looking forward to getting back to the outdoors now that he has recovered.

Lt. Col. (Ret) Steve Connolly is a 1985 graduate of the Air Force Academy and a former USAF F-16 and A-10 pilot. He is a Desert Storm veteran who retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the Air Force reserves and is a current American Airlines pilot.  Steve was the founder of the Kilimanjaro Warriors expedition and current founder of Operation Canyon Rising.

LCDR (Ret) Mark Heniser will be the team’s physical therapist. He was an integral member of the Kilimanjaro Warriors team in 2014. He also successfully summited the mountain. He is retired from the Navy and has been a physical therapist at the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio since 2005, which he helped to open. Mark was a very necessary aid to our climbers on the Kilimanjaro Warriors’ expedition.

Brian Miller will be the team’s therapist aiding in the recovery of PTSD-related issues, which often come along with traumatic injuries. He is a clinical supervisor for HealthMed where he oversees teams of mental health therapists at various military installations all over the world. Brian, a licensed professional counselor, has a Masters degree in counseling from Abiliene Christian University. He participates in six-10 triathlons and about one Iron Man per year. He is also the lead therapist at El Tesoro de la Vida, a grief camp for children in Granbury, Texas.

Bevan Bell will be the team’s photographer and videographer. He also successfully summited Mount Kilimanjaro and is creating a documentary for the Kilimanjaro Warriors expedition.

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