Hometown: Waterloo, Iowa
Branch of Service: Army
Status: Medically Retired
Injury Date: 2005/Baghdad
Injury: Below Knew Amputee, TBI
Matt Nyman was born in Waterloo, Iowa and grew up in a family that worked for John Deere. Even as a child, he knew that he would join the military—while in 3rd grade, Matt was asked what we wanted to do when he grew up and he responded, “I want to fight in World War III.”
After graduating from high school in 1996, Matt joined the Army with a contract to go to Infantry training, Airborne School, and Ranger Indoctrination Program. Upon successful completion of the three, he spent eight years in the 2/75th Ranger Battalion. In the spring of 2002, Matt was deployed to Afghanistan, spending almost six months in Tarin Kowt and on the border town of Skhin. The next year, he served for five months during the invasion of Iraq.
In December of 2003, Matt left the Ranger Battalion to be an instructor at Ranger School, 4th Ranger Training Battalion. Then, in the spring of 2004, he went into training for another Special Operations unit and moved to Fort Bragg.
In July of 2005, Matt was again deployed to Iraq. Only eight days after arriving in Baghdad, the helicopter he was riding sucked debris into the main rotor while landing, sending them into an uncontrolled spin. During the mayhem of the crash, Matt was violently thrown from the helicopter and a blade cut off his right leg below the knee. He landed hard against a wall, which resulted in a collapsed lung, traumatic brain injury, a compound break of the left femur, and a crushed left foot.
Matt spent the next few years recovering from his injuries and getting used to his prosthetic. Nerve damage in his left leg left him unable to move his foot for several years; he still has limited movement and severe pain.
Today, after 12 years of service, Matt is medically retired from the Army. He now works for the Joint Special Operations Command as a federal government employee. Married for eight years, the Nyman’s now have a four-year-old rambunctious boy, Aiden, who may have a sibling before too long.
It should be no surprise that Matt has always been a competitive athlete who participated in many sports including off-road triathlons, mountain biking, snow skiing, water skiing, road biking, and climbing. He doesn’t run as much after his injuries but still loves mountain biking, road biking, climbing, and most of all, mountaineering. Matt says, “I decided after my injuries that mountain climbing is something that I love to do, and allows me to short term, and long-term goals. It also allows me to continue to shoot for the next big peak, literally and metaphorically.
In 2008, he spent 12 days taking a mountaineering course on Mount McKinley. The following spring, Matt attempted the West Buttress on North America’s highest peak. That ascent was unsuccessful because of problems with adjusting to the altitude. Speaking about the climb, he notes, “My injuries did not hold me back at all. I was able to climb to the High Camp at 17,200 feet before being forced down the mountain from Altitude Mountain Sickness.”
Not a quitter, Matt decided to not only return to McKinley in 2010 but also climb the Seven Summits—the tallest peak on each continent. He is doing this just for himself, Matt says about his new challenge, “This is a venue in which I can help raise awareness and motivate other fallen soldiers that an adventurous life can still be had after being wounded. This message not only is for wounded veterans, but also anyone who has encountered adversity in their lives. It does not matter how small or large the goal is that someone sets after being set back in life. What is important is that the goal itself is set, and an individual continually strives for success, to always try to achieve new victories. It is those victories, even the small ones, that help return someone to a happy and prosperous life.”
Talking about the World T.E.A.M. Sports‘ Soldiers to the Summit Expedition in October 2010, Matt said prior to his journey to Nepal, “This is an incredible opportunity for me that will help me achieve my long term goals. Not only will I get to climb Lobuche, which is literally at the foot of Mount Everest, but I will also spend time with Erik, who is the only blind person to climb the Seven Summits, and his super-experienced Everest team. I am incredibly psyched for this challenge and hope it will inspire other people to never give up in the face of adversity.”