Local war veteran inspires UTC men's golf team on the green - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local war veteran inspires UTC men's golf team on the green

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Local war veteran and amputee, Andrew Smith, spent the day on the green with UTC men's golf to help inspire the team going into their final stretch of the season.

Smith grew up in Chattanooga before joining the army and the 82nd airborne out of North Carolina in 2010.

After being assigned overseas in Afghanistan in 2012, Smith was with his unit when they went into a firefight. He then stepped on an IED that took both his legs. 

"I remember flying through the air hitting the ground" recalls Smith. "I remember the medic working on me then getting on the helicopter. Then I don't remember anything after that. 5 days later I woke up."

But that doesn't stop him from hitting the green. Golf is both a therapeutic activity and competitive outlet for the retired sergeant. Smith also competes in the Veterans Golf Association, group of veterans nationwide that compete in tournaments and national qualifiers. And he's actually quite good. Smith just recently won the Wounded Warriors Seaflight tournament in Pinehurst, North Carolina.

"Just to be out there and focus on something and be able to get better at something again. In golf you have to have a lot patience and perseverance and it's the most frustrating thing ever, but being in the military you have to deal with a lot of things, learn from your mistakes and get better everyday at whatever you're doing so golf's the same way."

More importantly though he looks at his past experience and injury as an opportunity to not only appreciate everything he has in life, but also to inspire others to do the same.

"Getting to meet Andrew and hear his story is pretty awesome" says junior golfer Wes Gosselin. "I think as golfers we tend to make golf a little bit bigger than it is. And talking to Andrew is really humbling and just a really cool story."

"Guys like Andrew who made a sacrifice like that for our country, I think it's great for our young people to hear their story and get another perspective on life" says Mocs Head Coach Mark Guhne. "I think it was a great opportunity."

Coach Guhne and the Mocs have one final outing this weekend before heading into the conference tournament next week. And now thanks to Andrew the Mocs are able to enter post season play, and life, with a new outlook.

Andrew and his wife have also started a foundation called "Honoring the Sacrifice" that helps post-911 wounded veterans with whatever they need.

The foundation will be holding a dinner at the Chattanooga Convention Center this July summer to help raise money.

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