Afghanistan took Jody Mitic's legs, but not his will to fight

Jody Mitic lost both legs below the knee during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2007. He...

Jody Mitic lost both legs below the knee during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2007. He has since become a high-profile advocate for wounded veterans. (QMI Agency File Photo)

Aedan Helmer, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:59 AM ET

OTTAWA — Jody Mitic may be wading into the political battlefield for the first time, but he has the rare advantage of having had his boots on the ground in a full-blown war zone.

Long before Mitic threw his hat in the ring for a seat on Ottawa's city council, before he inspired thousands by traversing the country on a pair of prosthetic feet with brother Cory on the Amazing Race Canada, before he became an outspoken advocate for veteran's rights, decorated with the Sacrifice Medal after losing both legs below the knee to a land mine, Mitic was — and remains — a soldier.

"All through my adolescence I wanted to be in the Army, except briefly in the '80s when Top Gun came out and I wanted to be flying F-14s," Mitic laughs through a sip of coffee.

This Ottawa cafe is a long way from the sand-swept battlefields of Afghanistan — where Master Cpl. Mitic completed two tours as a top sniper — but his perilous missions, advancing deep into enemy territory with a battery of weaponry and gear strapped to his 6-foot-4 frame, are recounted with clear-eyed precision.

Of course, no moment will eclipse the January 2007 patrol mission that forever altered his life's course.

"We were just walking through a farmer's field and stepped up onto a path, and in the spot we stepped (the Taliban) had laid an anti-personnel mine. Three guys went in front of me and didn't step on it, and then I went up and stepped on it. I lost one foot immediately, they had to amputate the other one later."

It would be an hour before medics could reach the patrol team, his comrades trying desperately to keep Mitic from bleeding to death while keeping a keen eye out for signs of the enemy.

The thought didn't come to him at the time — it would take many months of rehab and several stages of grief to overcome — but Mitic came to accept his fate as the best possible outcome of that day.

"If anyone else had stepped on it, it may have killed three of us and left one out there by himself with his legs blown off," Mitic says. "So if you have to draw straws and get the short one, I was in the best spot if one of us had to, by fate, if the war gods had deemed it was gonna happen."


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