At 21, Aaron Hale he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served for eight years, the Boston Herald reports.
Then he switched to the Army in 2007, where he took on one of the most dangerous jobs in the military, becoming a member of the Explosive Ordinance Disposal team.
In 2011, Hale was on his second tour in Afghanistan when his unit got a call for a roadside IED (Improvised Explosive Device). Hale successfully defused it, but while he was sweeping the surrounding area, a second, hidden bomb detonated, spraying shrapnel into his eyes and breaking every bone in his face.
“In the first days after the blast I was in the bed at Walter Reed feeling sorry for myself,” Hale told the Herald. But his family held him together and he soon began to set goals for himself.
He ran his first Boston Marathon in 2015 -- and then, a few months later, contracted bacterial meningitis, which left him deaf.
"Blind I had figured out," he said, "but deaf and without a sense of balance was nearly too much to bear.”
His girlfriend (now fiancee) stayed at his bedside and helped him to create a private way to communicate. Soon he was back on his feet -- but with a whole new set of challenges. His hearing impairment affected his balance, and he had spells of vertigo.
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