Spc. David Alexander Knapp was buried last week.
Outside of his community, it went largely unnoticed by the nation as a whole. But Spc. Knapp was a soldier that people might like to know about, not just for what he gave up, but for what was in his heart; a heart that stopped too soon.
Alex, as he was known to his friends, was a 24 year-old Iraq war veteran from Big Rapids, Michigan, who died doing what he loved. He was competing in an exhibition game of sled hockey October 2, at Ferris State University, when he died suddenly of a heart attack.
An Army police officer, Spc. Knapp required bilateral amputation of both legs, above the knees, after being injured by an IED in Iraq, March 2008. He and his team were on a road near Baghdad when the explosion hit, leaving him and four other soldiers severely injured.
After about six months, and at least 16 surgeries at Walter Reed Army Medical Hospital, Knapp overcame multiple setbacks and complications before he returned home last September.
Conquering the challenges, Spc. Knapp returned to his home in Shelby Township, Michigan, but the physical obstacles of living in a home that couldn’t accommodate his wheelchair was frustrating.
Thanks to Homes for Our Troops, a non-profit organization that builds homes for injured war veterans, Spc. Knapp was able to move into a barrier-free home of his own in December 2009. It was liberating for him to finally be able to function independently.
In spite of his challenges, the former linebacker for Eisenhower High had no apparent bitterness towards the war that cost him his legs. He stated many times that he knew the risks of war going in.
As soon as he was able, Alex moved on to the task of living life to the fullest. He began doing charity work and did speaking engagements helping people in the same situation as him, but it was sled hockey that became his passion.
In fact, he made the U.S. junior sled hockey team and was selected to be an alternate for the national team that would compete in the next Olympics.
It was during the competition with the Michigan Sled Dogs that Alex began suffering tightness in his chest and later went into cardiac arrest. He was not able to be revived.
The story of Spc. Alex Knapp is not that much different from that of thousands of other soldiers who have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; injured but determined to lead a productive life.
How sad that after surviving such a massive war injury that he didn’t live to serve his country in other ways.
An excellent video of Spc. Kanpp is posted on YouTube.
Examiner’s Note: My condolences to the family and loved ones of Spc. Knapp. It is my honor to be able to tell his story. To Alex, thank you for your service to our country.
Anyone who is interested in the Home for Our Troops organization, please log on to: www.homesforourtroops.org or call 1-866-7-troops
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