On June 13th, 2012 21 year old Marine, Chris Van Etten was on a routine patrol with his infantry unit when his friend stepped on an IED (Improvised Explosive Devise). The explosion left the Marine lying helpless on the ground with one leg blown off. Chris dropped his litter, prepared to transport his wounded friend and stepped towards the fallen Marine when the second IED went off under his foot.
The Florida native joined the Marines in 2009 at 18 years old. Like his parents who both served in the Air Force, Chris wanted to serve his country and make them proud. Three years later his life was changed forever.
I remember everything from that point on. The explosion, flying through the air and the pain that followed.
Chris knew right away what had happened to him, that he had lost both of his legs in the explosion and was surprised at his own reaction when he chuckled and said, “well that sucks.” His positive attitude lends to his demeanor even today as he presses forward in spite of his injury.
The war veteran lives by the code, “no excuses” as is evident in his determination and plans to build his body and modeling career. He started working out shortly after the accident and took a series of photos with the acclaimed Michael Stokes and hopes to inspire others.
I took the first set of pictures just to get them out there so people could read my story. After seeing the response I thought maybe I would keep doing it and help more people.
Van Etten’s long term goals are to get a degree in counseling and eventually settle down and start a family. For now he plans to just keep doing what he’s doing to help people and motivate them.