WEST POINT -- Veteran Isaac Jensen gets around by wheelchair, hand-powered tricycle, motorcycle, and a truck that has been converted to hand controls.
However, it is on his motorcycle that he shares the camaraderie of other veterans.
Riding out on the shiny red Can-Am Spyder, Jensen has found his freedom. The Can-Am has been outfitted with hand controls to accommodate Jensen, a double amputee as the result of an explosion while serving in Iraq.
While in Iraq, Jensen and two other soldiers were clearing a house when one of the soldiers tripped a bomb. A refrigerator had been rigged so that when opened, explosives ripped through the men. Jensen, a medic, first applied tourniquets to one soldier and then to his own mangled limbs.
Jensen was awarded the Combat Medical Badge, two Purple Hearts, the Silver Star and the Bronze Star.
Where others call Jensen a hero, he doesn't see himself as one. He says, "People just do what needs to be done when the situation calls for it, and if that is being a hero, then everyone is a hero."
Last year, Jensen and his wife, Bethany, and son, James, moved into a home in West Point that had been built by Rainey Homes and the nonprofit Homes for our Troops. The Patriot Guard Riders escorted the Jensens to the location of their new home. It was then that Isaac Jensen met Bart Young, one of the riders.
After leaving the service, Jensen felt the loss of his sense of family the men and women in the military forge. He needed to associate with others who had been in similar circumstances and who understood him. The American Legion provided that friendship and closeness.
One day, he mentioned to Young, also a vet, that before entering the Army, his goal had been to ride a Harley.
Young said if he had the money he would have bought Jensen a bike on the spot. Instead, Young and others in the Legion helped make it possible for Jensen to have his head in the wind, as bikers would say, by sponsoring numerous fundraisers throughout Northern Utah.
Jensen thrived with the newfound freedom the bike gave him and soon bought a new Can-Am Spyder. The first month he had the Can-Am, he put on 3,000 miles. Now he rides his Can-Am with the Legion Riders and the Patriot Guard Riders wearing a vest bearing his biker name, "Feet."
Young said when Jensen rides with the Legion Riders or the Patriot Guard, he is not treated any
differently than the other riders. If it weren't for the crutches on the back of the cycle, one wouldn't realize that he is an amputee.
Young watched a transformation occur in Jensen from when he first met him to now when he rides. He said Jensen is a whole person now, even without legs.
Wherever they go, Young said, it seems folks know Jensen. He is greatly admired by those he meets.
Jensen said Utah has been a wonderful place for a veteran. Other locations have sometimes treated him and other Iraqi vets poorly, but he said in Utah he is treated with respect and honor.
Jensen said, "My job is to sit in the wheelchair. My job is to remind people that we're still there (in the Middle East)."
He is a vibrant man and doesn't seek sympathy. Instead, he says:
"Live your life; make my sacrifice worth it. Live the American dream."