Mike Gallardo is a hero but he doesn’t want any credit.
On February 7, 2007, while serving in the U.S. Army in Iraq, Gallardo and his fellow soldiers were riding in a Humvee near foot patrol soldiers. Gallardo’s team saw explosives in the road and collectively decided to ride over the bombs on purpose to potentially save soldiers on the ground from stepping on the explosive.
“They make movies about these kinds of people,” said friend Eric Basek.
The decision cost him his left leg. While trying to pry his commander out of the burning vehicle, his Achilles tendon was melted. For six months, doctors tried to save his left leg. It was ultimately amputated.
“For a split second, I wanted to give up,” he said. “I got a little depressed.”
When returning from war, Gallardo was struggling with confidence and wanting a sense of community again. He found it in CrossFit.
Gallardo will be participating in the 11th Warrior CrossFit showcase this weekend in Clearwater Beach. It’s a showcase of military and civilian CrossFit athletes from around the country who are coming together to support each other through competition and exercise.
It’s the type of community that Gallardo was looking for. He credits CrossFit with saving his life.
“When they say I can’t do something I say, ‘Sure you can,’” said Gallardo. “I always have a positive outlook.”
Mike made the decision to join the Army on his 17th birthday, which just happened to be September 11, 2001.
The 11th Warrior event begins at 7:30 with a Navy SEALS skydive exhibition at Pier 60. The CrossFit events will continue all day. The event will take place in honor of Navy SEAL Jason Freiwold, who was killed in action on September 11, 2008 in Afghanistan.