173rd FW flies first combat injured veteran to summit Mt. Everest

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing
The 173rd Fighter Wing hosted the first combat injured veteran to summit Mt. Everest, Nov. 14, 2016.

Marine Staff Sgt. Charlie Linville, who is medically retired, climbed to the top of the world's highest mountain in May, despite having lost his lower right leg to an IED while stationed in Afghanistan in 2011.

His visit included a briefing for the Airmen of the 173rd Fighter Wing where he described both his injury and eventual recovery.

Following his briefing Linville donned a flight suit and climbed into the back seat of an F-15 Eagle in what would be another first for him.

"Wow, I got more than I'd hoped for," he said. "Experiencing the Gs, the speed, and the capability of the F-15 was a great experience--I mean holy America!"

Those capabilities made a lasting impression on the Marine.

"I've put my body through some hard times, but nothing like nine Gs," he said. "I went wheezy real quick...I have the utmost respect for the guys who fly these and protect us from above."

Linville was in town to speak at a local Marine Corps Ball, Nov. 10 and an instructor pilot with the 173rd Fighter Wing thought it would be good for Airmen to hear a message of resiliency.

"I felt that our Wing needed to hear his story," said Maj. William Sullivan, an F-15 Instructor Pilot for Det. 2, 56th Operations Group at Kingsley Field. "As a training base most of us are not exposed to what can happen in war. We do not see what happens first-hand so the next best thing would be to hear from someone that has been through it and overcome its aftermath." 

Sullivan was also the driving force in helping Linville return to 30-thousand feet.

"I felt he deserved an F-15 ride for all that he has done for his country and for showing others that they can dig themselves out of a hole, so I put the paperwork together to get him a ride," he said. "He did great.  He was surprised by the G's and loved every minute of it. His stomach got the best of him on final when we came in to land."