Marine veteran Gaal completes his journey

Toran Gaal, a double-amputee Marine veteran and former Oakhurst resident, reached his goal of biking to the US Marine Corps War Memorial at the entrance of Arlington National Cemetery on Aug. 2, more than two months after he started his journey in San Diego.

Gaal, 28, made the 3,800-mile trek on a handcycle, powered by arms instead of legs.

“The only limits in life are those we set for ourselves,” Gaal said.

The purpose of this arduous trek was not only to inspire others but to raise money for the Semper Fi Fund - a nonprofit group that provided food, lodging and airfare for his family during his hospitalization. He raised more than $47,000 along his way.

While his journey was filled with highlight-after-highlight, his most memorable moments were large patriotic welcomes in Marshfield, Miss., and Boston, but most importantly, “being at Arlington with my lost brothers.”

Gaal, a 2005 Yosemite High graduate, was critically injured in the Sangin District of the Helmand Province of Afghanistan, June 26, 2011, when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blew off his left leg and severely damaged his right leg. That area is considered one of the country’s most dangerous regions.

He was a corporal infantry rifleman in 15 Charlie Company with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division based out of Camp Pendelton in San Diego, and was presented with a Purple Heart medal Aug. 11 by General Joe Dunford.

“He is an inspiration to so many,” fiancé Lisa Graves said, “and I am just thankful to have a front row view while he continues to serve our great nation.”


Staff report