Staff Sgt. Marc Esposito nears the 1,000-mile mark in Utah during Sea to Shining Sea, a 4,000-mile bike ride which started at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and will end July 24, in Virginia Beach, Va. (Photo courtesy of Austin Smithard)
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A combat air controller wounded in Afghanistan last year when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device has trekked 4,000 miles across the country on a bicycle to inspire other wounded troops.
Staff Sgt. Marc Esposito, from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Air Force Base, N.C., started the 4,000-mile Sea to Shining Sea ride May 21 in San Francisco with a team of 19 that includes four other airmen or former airmen. The ride is set to wrap up Saturday in Virginia Beach, Va.
Esposito spent nearly a year in hospitals and underwent several surgeries after the May 2009 IED attack.
"When the special operations medical technician found me, he said I was on fire, had no heartbeat and wasn't breathing," Esposito said in a statement. "My legs and back were broken, and a lot of my teeth were smashed. I also suffered a traumatic brain injury."
Another airman on the ride, Senior Airman Brian Petras, lost part of his leg to cancer. The C-130 flight engineer with the 50th Airlift Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., met Esposito while they were both recovering.
"By doing the Sea to Shining Sea ride, we want to prove that we are still an asset to our great country, that we are still very capable and can continue to serve," Petras said.
Other Air Force riders include Tech. Sgt. Christopher Frost, an explosive ordnance disposal team leader stationed at Joint Base Andrews, Md., former Capt. Kevin Sullivan, a decorated navigator, and former Staff Sgt. Scott Bilyeu, a pararescueman.