When Capt. Ivan Castro joined the Army, he set goals: to jump out of planes, kick in doors and lead soldiers into combat. He achieved them all. Then the mortar round landed five feet away, blasting away his sight.
“Once you're blind, you have to set new goals,” Castro said.
He set them higher.
Not content with just staying in the Army, he is the only blind officer serving in the Special Forces – the small, elite units famed for dropping behind enemy lines on combat missions.
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As executive officer of the 7th Special Forces Group's headquarters company in Fort Bragg, Castro's duties don't directly involve combat, though they do have him taking part in just about everything that leads up to it.
“I am going to push the limits,” the 40-year-old said.
Since the war began in Iraq, more than 100 troops have been blinded and 247 others have lost sight in one eye. Only two other blind officers serve in the active-duty Army.
An 18-year Army veteran, Castro was a Ranger before completing Special Forces training, the grueling yearlong course many soldiers fail to finish.