Basic Camp

Golf Cadet strives to be Soldier after recovery from debilitating car accident

Golf Cadet Thomas Codding was told he would never walk again after his 2011 car accident. Photo by Corey Ohlenkamp.

Golf Company Cadet Thomas Codding, student at State University of New York at Potsdam, was told he would never walk again after his 2011 car accident. Photo by Corey Ohlenkamp.

By Crystal Allen
Leader’s Training Course

On May 9, 2011, Thomas Codding was making a right turn at an intersection with no stoplights. While making the turn, Codding’s car was T-boned by another vehicle coming at him at 65 mph.

The impact smashed his body into a space of 12 inches.

The next thing Codding remembers was waking up in the hospital. He saw about 20 staples running down his chest. He then turned to his mother sitting at his bedside and asked, “What happened?”

The wreck resulted in staples to seal wounds throughout his chest and skull, five hip fractures causing him to have five 12-inch titanium screws inserted into his left hip, a fractured left rib cage, fractured collar-bone and a 7-inch tear in his diaphragm, where his innards were pushed up into his chest cavity. In the end Codding was hospitalized for a week and an additional week for each of his two surgeries, one for his diaphragm and one for his hip.

Codding’s dreams of being a college football player and Soldier had come to a halt. He was forced to use a wheelchair, and his doctor said he would never walk the same again.

“I went through a phase of depression, going from being starting fullback on the football team, very active lifestyle, very motivated individual,” said Codding, a junior at the State University of New York at Potsdam. “They set me in a wheelchair, I couldn’t do anything for myself and when I tried to do something for myself everyone kept telling me, ‘Don’t do that, you’ll hurt yourself.’ ”

After two months, he progressed to a walker, crutches and eventually a cane. A week before his freshman year of college, he was able to walk again.

“I’ve always pushed myself to do the best that I can, and I tried to keep the mindset that whenever possible I wasn’t going to stay in the wheelchair,” he said. “I just worked hard and progressively got better and stronger and moved on.”

Once Codding was able to walk, he felt like a new person. He could finally start pursuing his dreams. Although being a college athlete was no longer a possibility, he could pursue his goal of becoming a Soldier.

After two months of extensive rehabilitation and a couple years of working out on his own, Codding arrived to the Leader’s Training Course with Golf Company. Although the accident was two years ago, he still finds himself struggling to do some of what other Cadets do.

“If I overwork myself, a good long hard day of training, I start to feel it a little bit,” Codding said. “I’ll start walking with a little bit of swagger, but other than that I just keep pushing.”

Codding has overcome the obstacle that was put in front of him with the help of his fellow Cadets. He has passed every test at LTC. He has learned that with the help of the Cadets he now calls friends, he can overcome any obstacle no individual could do on their own.

“Anything is possible,” Codding said. “You just work together and you can do anything.”

Staff Sgt. Yamil Torres, senior drill sergeant for Golf Company, has watched Codding throughout the course. He sees a confidence in him many Cadets don’t have, a confidence that helps him be the leader he is at LTC.

“If he overcame the car accident, then he’s not going to have a problem overcoming anything else,” Torres said.

Codding is always asking more questions about the military and leading by example for other Cadets.

“Hopefully, he contracts because he will be a great great lieutenant,” Torres said. “He’s always telling people what to do. Every time I need something done, he’s one of the first ones to be there and help me out.”

Codding hopes to contract with the Army once he graduates from LTC. He eventually wants to commission and become a military police officer.

“I don’t let anything stop me from doing what I want to do,” he said.


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