In 2007, Sgt. John Peck, of Antioch, Illinois, was serving in Iraq when he was first wounded. The vehicle he was riding in while manning the turret gun hit an IED. Peck was left with vision, balance problems, complete loss of short term and long-term memory, and hearing problems as a result. He also suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) which nearly killed him. Undeterred, Sgt. Peck went through months of grueling physical with the goal of returning to the Marines and serving his country.
He reenlisted in the Marines and things were going well until May 24, 2010; that fateful day that would change his life forever. At the age of twenty-four, Sgt. Peck was serving in Helmand province, Afghanistan with the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines Weapons Company as a mortar man. Peck was out on patrol when he stepped on an IED triggering it. The resulting blast amputated Peck’s legs, part of one arm, severe damage to his other arm and wounded him severely in the stomach. As a result of medical complications, doctors ended up amputating part Sgt. Peck’s remaining arm. He received treatment in Germany and was later transferred to Bethesda Naval Hospital. Sgt. Peck endured twenty-seven different surgeries, and received forty-one pints of red blood cells, thirty-five units of plasma and five units of platelets. He almost died three times during his surgeries and on the third was actually pronounced dead. Despite his fragile condition Sgt. Peck became an advocate for blood donation.
On August 26, 2014, he was officially listed to receive a double arm transplant in Boston, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital. On August 18, 2016, Sgt. Peck received some good news that they had received a donor. After a sixteen-hour surgery, with two identical surgical teams each working on one arm, Sgt. Peck was the second military member to receive an upper bilateral transplant. Sgt. Peck and his wife, Jessica, have been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where Sgt. Peck endured often grueling daily physical and occupational therapy.
Today, Sgt. Peck is a much sought-after inspirational speaker, sharing his hopeful story of overcoming nearly insurmountable injuries with audiences from corporations to high schools and non-profits. He also encourages every American to become and organ donor and to be a helpful hand to others. John co-authored “Rebuilding Sergeant Peck: How I Put Body and Soul Back Together After Afghanistan" (Skyhorse, April 2019).