‘I am going to find a way’: Air Force SMSgt competing in Warrior Games after leg amputation


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – “You do what you can. You don’t make excuses. I don’t believe in excuses so I am going to find a way.”

David Snyder appears to be accomplishing his mission. He is currently a competitor in the Warrior Games and he is a senior master sergeant in the Air Force. He is stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton Virginia.

While he was training for cycling at MacDill Air Force Base, he told 8 On Your Side’s Gabrielle Shirley about an accident that changed his world on Aug. 13, 2017.

“I was in Dozier, Alabama,” said David. “And somebody, an uninsured motorist, pulled out in front of me and hit me on my motorcycle.”

He never actually fell off of his motorcycle. But his left leg took the brunt of the impact.

“I popped off the bike, made a tourniquet out of my shirt to stop the bleeding, and then I laid there for about 30 or 45 minutes and waited for a helicopter ride,” said David.

When we asked him to share his most vivid memory of that moment, he chuckled.

“The thing I remember most is kind of funny. The funny part is the guy who hit me, he stopped, and my uncle started getting into a physical altercation so that was the funny part.”

Can you tell David is a man who constantly sees the glass half full?

“I am over there trying to get a tourniquet tied,” he said. “It was not bad but they were in the chest bumping stages and I kind of had to intervene and distract my uncle. He got on the phone with 911 and I started relaying the info.”

The seriousness of the injury did not dawn on David until he got to the hospital.

“The bone is like beyond shattered,” said David. “There are literally pieces on the highway out in Alabama!”

The doctors tried to salvage his leg but the reconstruction failed and, about nine months after the accident, David chose to have it amputated.

“I wanted my life back and this was the quickest, most efficient way to do it. I literally kissed my leg goodbye,” he said. He has a picture to prove it. He told us his wife snapped it for him hours before the amputation.

David said, “You kind of have these ideas of what you cannot do now and my mindset was, ‘I am going to overcome all of that. I am going to do all of that.’”

He did not waste any time. He reflected on the moments after the surgery.

“I am waking up, pulled the sheets off, and there it was…or wasn’t,” David smiled as he corrected himself. “There was a walker next to my bed and within 20 minutes of waking up, I was out of bed and going to the bathroom and you know we were starting.”

He started on a journey, a ride, that he has chosen to fully embrace. David adds he would not have been able to do it without the support of his family, his friends and strangers he has met along the way.

“I knew I would be here,” he said in reference to the Warrior Games. “And I knew it would take a huge team to get me here so anytime I say ‘I’ – know that that is a ‘we.’ Doctors, family, and everyone around me.”

David will compete in all of the events within track and within swimming, as well as both rowing and cycling events.

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