Beth King found hope in a three-wheeled trike. The U.S. Army crew chief on a Chinook supply helicopter recalled when all hope was lost during an attack over the skies of Afghanistan back on July 25, 2011 during Operation Enduring Freedom. “We were on our routine supply detail when we were hit by an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade). It came through the belly of our craft and struck a Gator inside that caught fire.”
The aircraft went down in a crash landing, engulfed in flames. Miraculously, King, four crew members and 13 troops survived, but not without severe injuries.
King was in a state of severe concussion with a dislocated jaw and cuts and abrasions. It wasn’t until week’s later that she noticed her right side growing weaker by the day. Turned out she had suffered a severe brain trauma that has left her with limited mobility on her right side, loss of balance and sight in her right eye.
“I had lost all hope of regaining my purpose in life,” she said. “It was devastating.”
A staff sgt. upon retirement, King drew from family and friends to reach a space in her life that would redeem some of the physical qualities she was now lacking. Her husband, Alan, and son, Dante, 16, were her prime motivation during rehabilitation.
A native of New York, King came to the southwest through Fort Bliss. The family began looking for a place to call home and settled on Deming for its climate and hospitality.
King set out to join a Wounded Warriors fundraising ride and was given a three-wheeled chair with a push bar on the back. “I didn’t care for the push bar. It took away from my independence,” she said.
She removed the push bar and set out to do another Wounded Warrior ride and found the experience to be grueling but rewarding at the same time. “After being told I would never compete athletically again, it was inspiring and rewarding to know that I still can,” King said.
Her brain injury can grow worse if not treated through therapy and exercise.
She began training with Gabriel Dominguez at Gabe’s Fitness in Deming, with the dreams of competing in military games from the trike chair. Her confidence grew, and with much encouragement from family and friends, she added field events (shot put and discus), power-lifting and indoor rowing. King has been competing in sprint and middle-distance races along with the field events and cycling.
She is preparing for the Army trials to be held on Tuesday, March 17, at Fort Bliss in El Paso. She will compete in the Texas Regionals on the following week and plans to compete in the Invictus Games in May at Hague Netherlands. She will be joined by 64 members of Team USA. A total of 500 athletes from 20 countries are expected to compete.
King and her supporters are planning a car wash from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday at Dunne’s CarQuest. Donations will be accepted.
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