Marine Staff Sgt. Charlie Linville, an explosive-ordinance disposal technician who lost part of his right leg as a result of an explosion in Afghanistan in 2011, made history Thursday as the first combat-wounded amputee veteran to scale Mount Everest, according to an announcement by his climbing group.
Linville made the climb as a part of Operation Everest: 2016, a team assembled by the nonprofit Heroes Project. The group sponsors global climbing expeditions for wounded service members and their families and participates in community outreach on behalf of the veterans.
It was Linville’s third attempt at summiting the 29,029-foot peak. An avalanche thwarted his first try, in 2014, and in 2015 a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that caused widespread damage throughout the region canceled that year’s climbing season.
Linville was joined on the summit by a small video crew and a team of sherpas. According to the Hero Project’s announcement, Linville’s team was the first group on the summit during the 2016 climbing season. They arrived at Everest base camp in mid-April and began pushing toward the summit from a secondary camp on Wednesday. The team is now descending the mountain.
While Linville is the first combat-wounded amputee to summit the mountain, Mark Inglis, a New Zealand native, was the first amputee to scale the storied peak, in 2006.
Linville joined the Marines in 2006 as an infantryman and deployed to Fallujah, Iraq, with the 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment – known as the 3/5 “Darkhorse” battalion — in 2007, according to a biography on the Heroes Project website. Upon his return he volunteered for explosive-ordinance disposal training and upon his certification as an EOD technician deployed to Afghanistan. He spent time in the volatile city of Marja before switching to a team in the bomb-riddled district of Sangin.
On Jan. 20, 2011, Linville and his fellow technicians were investigating a roadside-bomb detonation when, during a sweep of the area, Linville triggered another bomb. The device was probably laid to hit the Marines who were responding to the initial explosion. Linville’s right foot and hand were riddled with shrapnel, and after years of surgery and rehab his foot was amputated in 2013.