BETHESDA, MD (WUSA9) - A Marine Corps veteran from Virginia has defied the odds and is making an amazing recovery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
A group of school children recently asked Sgt. John Peck if he had any regrets about serving our country.
"They asked me, 'How do you feel? If you could go back, would you do it again?' I tell everybody I would. And I still would to this day," Peck said. He would still go to war, despite what he has lost.
In 2010 Peck stepped on an explosive device in Afghanistan. He lost both arms and legs. But, he isn't giving up.
In the summer of 2016 his life changed again -- he underwent a rare, double arm transplant in Boston, Mass.
With a new set of arms, Peck has started to swim again -- one determined stroke at a time.
"I love the pool. Me and water," he told WUSA9. "I’m getting used to the arms."
Sgt. Peck is one of just five quadruple amputees who received treatment at Walter Reed Bethesda.
TIMELINE OF JOHN PECK'S JOURNEY
"He's very motivated," said his physical therapy technician, Petty Officer 2nd Class William Medlock. "He’s always smiling. I’ve never seen him come to the clinic looking down or anything. He’s a joy to be around."
Peck knows his arm donor, Chris, will never glide through the water again.
"My right arm is moving, which is surprising everybody," Peck said, who has defied all medical expectations."You see my progress. You see that I’m actually starting to wiggle fingers, and get stronger."
"He is very funny," laughed his occupational therapist Joe Butkus, "and it helps a lot. It helps a lot."
WUSA9 asked Peck if he has limbs in his dreams.
"I don’t dream," he replied. "When I go to sleep, I dream of black. It’s my mind, I think, protecting myself."
Peck understands what it’s like to emerge from the darkness.
A suicidal stranger reached out to him in the depths of his despair.
"He was like, I was ready to pull the trigger. I was going to go to work, I already said goodbye to my wife and my kids. I had the gun in my car. He’s like, I had the spot, I had everything planned out," Peck said.
But then the stranger checked out Peck’s Facebook page, John Peck's Journey.
"He’s like, alright, this dude freaking lost all four of his limbs, went through x, y, z. Came back, got an arm transplant. This dude’s still smiling," said Peck. "If he can do it, I can smile."
And that has strengthened Peck’s resolve and confidence.
"I kind of take strength from that," he told WUSA9.
Right after the transplant surgery, his arm donor’s parents contacted Peck through Facebook. They want to meet him in person for a drink, as soon as Peck can hold a beer. That may be much sooner than anyone expected.
Peck’s goal is to become a professional chef and no one doubts he’ll accomplish that.
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