Injured Marine flies again thanks to special parachute jump
BY DIANA KUYPER Sun-Times Media May 22, 2012 6:06PM
Marine Sgt. John Peck of Antioch lands during a tandem parachute jump with instructor Steve Boothey of Racine, Wisconsin. Peck was injured while serving in Afghanistan and wore a specially designed jump suit at Skydive Midwest in Sturtevant, Wisconsin. | Thomas Delany Jr.~ Sun-Times Media
Antioch Marine Sgt. John Peck whooped for joy and maybe a bit of relief as he completed a successful tandem parachute jump at Skydive Midwest in Sturtevant, Wis.
Although the skydiving center annually conducts thousands of successful jumps, Peck’s Monday jump was unique: He wore a specially-designed harness to accommodate the loss of his arms and legs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan.
He was cheered on by his family, friends, a contingent of American Legion Riders and members of Southern Wisconsin All Airborne Chapter, 82nd Airborne Division Association, Inc., a group from Kenosha that raised $30,000 for his benefit.
Minutes before he jumped with a eight other skydivers from 14,000 feet his stepdad, Zenio Krutyholowa, said he wasn’t nervous. “After what John has been through, this is nothing.”
Mom Lisa Peck agreed. “I am not worried. He can handle it.”
The 26-year-old Antioch High School graduate was deployed to Afghanistan in April 2010. Less than two months later, on May 24, he stepped on an improvised explosive device.
He lost both of his legs and both of his arms. He was placed in a medically-induced coma, undergoing dozens of surgeries and surviving a life-threatening infection.
He received two Purple Hearts for those injuries and for a traumatic head injury suffered during his first term of duty in Iraq.
Monday’s freefall skydive with veteran skydiver Steve Boothey fulfilled a wish on Peck’s bucket list that was sparked by a visit from Southern Wisconsin All Airborne Chapter member Dan Boring.
Skydive Midwest owner Keith George, a veteran, five years ago started Blue Skies Foundation to raise money for wounded veterans and host the tandem skydives for them every year. Boring, who has seen Peck in action encouraging other wounded veterans at Walter Reed, said it was important for him to make the jump.
“There is no doubt it will motivate and encourage other wounded veterans. This man shows no self-pity. He goes around talking and encouraging other guys who in no way have been as severely injured. His life was saved for a reason.”
“The sky is literally the limit for him,” Boring said. “He is an inspiration to all of us.”