Army Sgt. Neil Duncan (Ret.)
Sgt. Neil Duncan has climbed some of the highest mountains in the world—figuratively and literally. As a leader of a team of elite paratroopers deployed to southern Afghanistan, Duncan was gravely wounded in an explosion of an IED (improvised explosive device) in December 2005. He lost both legs and shattered his jaw, undergoing rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Within months, though, he was up and running again, on high-tech prosthetics. Sgt. Duncan retired from the Army in 2007 and began a year of intensive training, climbing 14,000-foot-high mountain peaks in Colorado and logging 25 miles a week on elliptical machines. In June 2010, in a test of his new limbs and his own will, Duncan and two other veteran amputees climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, at 19,340 feet the tallest peak on the African continent. In the summer of 2012, Duncan attempted to climb Denali, the tallest peak in North America, rising 16,000 feet in four weeks before bad weather forced him to end the ascent. A few months later he climbed the tallest peak in South America, Mt. Aconcagua in Argentina, at 23,000 feet. His ultimate goal: to climb the tallest peaks on all seven continents. Since retiring from the Army, Duncan earned a finance degree from the University of Denver; he also serves several veteran support organizations, including the Infinite Hero Foundation.