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Veteran races in support of wounded service members | MISSION SA

A Marine Corps veteran has made it his mission to support wounded service members by raising money through various races.

SAN ANTONIO — 40-year-old Michael Mendoza, a former reconnaissance Marine and sniper, has supported the Semper Fi Fund for several years. The non-profit organization provides financial support to wounded, ill and injured service members from every military branch. He received support from the group when he was severely wounded in Iraq in 2006.

Credit: Mike Mendoza

“I was injured when I was on a sniper mission. I took a grenade to the chest and that grenade, when it exploded, hit both my lungs, hit my diaphragm,” he recalled. “Semper Fi Fund jumped in and I didn’t even know they jumped in. They pretty much came to my bedside with my wife and my son. They provided financial assistance.”

Credit: Mike Mendoza

After Mendoza fully healed, he joined Team Semper Fi, the organization’s athletic program and competed in the Marine Corps Marathon. Mendoza has also, participated in other races with his friends that sparked his interest for triathlons.

He shared how he was sitting on his couch in December one day, and decided that he was to beat the Guinness World Record of the most 70.3 ironman triathlons completed in one year. The record at the time was 23 triathlons. 

In 2017, he achieved his goal by completing 24 triathlons. The 70.3 Ironman triathlon is a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run. He helped raise money for the Semper Fi Fund at the same time. Till this day, he continues to participate in races to raise money. He’s reached nearly $100 thousand for the organization.

Credit: Mike Mendoza

“I had friends that didn’t come home that I was very close to. I have friends that don’t have legs. I have friends that don’t have arms. I have friends that are blind so that’s what they’re enduring throughout the day,” said Mendoza. “We’re still in a fight. We still have troops overseas. We still have our young guys coming through and sooner or later, they’re going to be filling my shoes.”

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