FORT BRAGG, N.C. — When Capt. Ivan Castro joined the Army, he set goals: to jump out of planes, kick in doors and lead soldiers into combat. He achieved them all. Then the mortar round landed five feet away, blasting away his sight.
“Once you’re blind, you have to set new goals,” Castro said.
He set them higher.
Not content with just staying in the Army, he is the only blind officer serving in the Special Forces — the small, elite units famed for dropping behind enemy lines on combat missions.
As executive officer of the 7th Special Forces Group’s headquarters company in Fort Bragg, Castro’s duties don’t directly involve combat, though they do have him taking part in just about everything that leads up to it.
“I am going to push the limits,” the 40-year-old said. “I don’t want to go to Fort Bragg and show up and sit in an office. I want to work every day and have a mission.”
After 17 months in recovery, Castro sought a permanent assignment in the service’s Special Operations Command, landing duty with the 7th Special Forces Group. He focuses on managerial tasks while honing the group’s Spanish training, a useful language for a unit that deploys regularly to train South American troops.
“I want to support the guys and make sure life is easier for those guys so that they can accomplish the mission,” he said.
Though not fully independent, he spent a weekend before starting his job walking around the Group area at Fort Bragg to know just where he was going. He carefully measured the steps from car to office.
“Obviously, he cannot do some things that a sighted person can do. But Ivan will find a way to get done whatever he needs to get done,” Mulholland said. “What I am most impressed with, though, is his determination to continue to serve his country after all that he’s been through.”
Read the whole thing to find out more about this inspirational hero (here’s more, via a Feb. 2008 CNN article). God bless you, Captain Castro!