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K.G. grad plays in warrior event
King George graduate one of 22 wounded service members competing in the Warrior Open

 Jason Searles practices shots at Cheyenne Shadows Golf Club at Fort Carson, Colo., as son Cooper looks on.
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Date published: 9/23/2012

BY CATHY DYSON

Jason Searles, a 2004 graduate of King George High School, will be among 22 competitors in the 2012 Warrior Open in Dallas on Monday and Tuesday.

The open is a two-day golf tournament for service members who were severely wounded during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

The event is presented by the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Searles, an Army staff sergeant based in Colorado Springs, served two deployments to Iraq before being sent to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in May 2011.

Three months later, he was leading his squad on a foot patrol to clear paths of improvised explosive devices when he stepped on a land mine.

Searles' right leg was amputated below the knee, and he sustained deep soft tissue wounds to his left lower leg and left bicep. Bones in two fingers were shattered.

For the next two months, he endured 15 surgeries to clean the wounds, graft skin on his fingers and leg and to revise his amputation.

He later lost half his middle finger from infection and still has limited use of his ring finger on his left hand.

Searles received his first prosthetic soon after he left the hospital and walked exactly two months after his injuries. He currently is in the Warrior Transition Unit and hopes to return to active duty until he is eligible for retirement.

Searles received the Purple Heart.

He played golf in high school has rekindled his love of the sport. He and his wife, Stephanie, whose parents live in King George County, have an 8-month-old son, Cooper.

Golf is an important part of the rehabilitation process for many of those injured on the front lines, according to the Warrior Open website.

The sport allows participants to leave the hospital, get some fresh air and focus on something besides the recovery process and pain.

"It provides a way to hone movement and motor skills," according to the website.

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
Email: cdyson@freelancestar.com