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U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Oskar R. Zepeda had dreams of becoming an elite Ranger in the military. After he enlisted in Los Angeles, California, in March 2004, he trained in the Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP), at airborne school, as well as sniper school to become a Ranger. During his 10 years of service he served as a machine gunner, rifleman, team leader, squad leader, Ranger sniper and platoon sergeant.
Zepeda served on nine deployments from 2005 to 2011, three in Iraq and the other six in Afghanistan. During his ninth deployment, Zepeda was on a mission to capture a Taliban commander in Afghanistan. While he and his men executed the mission, he had to subdue an enemy combatant. As Zepeda put his arms around him, the combatant detonated a grenade in his hand, killing himself and severely injuring Zepeda and his fellow soldiers. As he lay wounded, Zepeda was still able to call out instructions to his fellow Rangers, allowing his comrades to eventually close in on and defeat the enemy.
As a result of the blast, Zepeda suffered multiple injuries that have left him without quadriceps and a hamstring in his right leg. He also suffers from drop foot, drop wrist, traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), loss of use of his right hand and other extremities, as well as a neurostimulator implanted in his spine to help with pain in his arm. Since his injury, Zepeda has received more than 30 surgeries for his injuries and is continuing his recovery with the help of medical centers such as Brooke Army Medical Center, Madigan Army Medical Center and UCLA Medical Institute. He officially retired from the Army in February 2014.
Zepeda is a highly decorated veteran honored with numerous awards, including a Purple Heart, two Army Commendation Awards, two Global War on Terrorism Medals and many more. He currently lives in Sylmar, California, with his wife and two children, with support and family nearby. Zepeda is still in recovery and recently joined the bike group “Ride to Recovery” as a new therapy and hopes to help other biking disabled service members one day.
Thanks to Operation FINALLY HOME and PulteGroup Built to Honor™, the Zepeda family will have a home to call their own in Southern California.