Triple amputee veteran talks war, life before battle - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

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Triple amputee veteran talks war, life before battle

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -

Frederick McDade was drafted into the army at 20 years old. He wanted to serve his country and then get back to playing professional baseball.

McDade never hit the diamond again, and his time at war impacts his life to this day.

"He opened it, and gave it to me, and says you are now drafted in the United States Army," McDade recalled from the day he got his draft letter.  

It was a letter that changed McDade’s life. 10 days later he went to war.

As an African American, he fought for a country that didn't see him as equal.

"Even with my uniform on when I went out to the restaurants I had to go to the back when I rode in a bus I had to go to the back," McDade explained.

McDade continued to fight until his time on the front lines ended shortly into the Vietnam War.

"I was over there for about 4 months and 15 days before I got hit," said McDade.

Running the bases wasn't possible when he came home. He still struggles with the damage a rocket-propelled grenade caused.

"It blew me up and tore the jeep into little bitty pieces," he recalled.

McDade lost his leg, one eye, and is totally blind, but he refuses to let that define him.

"I wanted to have another name other than disabled Vietnam veteran," he urged.                             

He admits it wasn't always easy, especially at first

"I did not want to live,” McDade recalled, “I prayed to die."

He worked hard, graduated from Dalton State, then UTC, and got a job at Dalton High School helping at-risk students

"To get to where I am now is a reward,” said McDade, “I thank God I get to do the things that I do."

McDade has a very positive attitude and is very open about his experiences. He said it's important for him to talk about it.          

"It does me good to talk about how I got hurt when I got hurt, and how I overcome it," he explained.

Talking about his experience is also a reminder that freedom isn't free; something he knows first-hand.

"I am an American, dedicated to the principles which make this country free,” McDade urged, “I was prepared to risk my life, and almost gave my life, for your freedom."

Before leaving for the war McDade played shortstop for the Washington Senator, a team we know today as the Texas Rangers.

He uses his experiences on the ball field and battlefield to help at-risk youth.

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