They may be dramatically visible – a missing limb or facial scar. They may also dwell beneath the skin’s surface as mental trauma that persists long after its elicited events. For many veterans, their wounds are obstacles, but for one there is nothing that can hinder his strive for excellence.
After serving 14 years, a misfortune occurred that prevented Tech. Sgt. Derrall Peach Jr. from legally doing his job as a ground transportation craftsman with the 355th Logistics Readiness Squadron.
“Last January, I was injured lifting weights,” Peach said. “I was having headaches and blurred vision, and I eventually ended up in the hospital for a week. I had completely lost all central and peripheral vision in my right eye and doctors found lesions on my brain that were causing chronic migraines.”
Peach now serves as an administrator with the Airman and Family Readiness Center, but as a natural competitor, he needed an avenue to hone his competitive edge. Fortunately, the Air Force provided an opportunity for him to keep his strong-willed spirit.
“I love to compete, but after my injury I was unsure if competing was still a reality,” he said. “Luckily I attended an Air Force Wounded Warrior adaptive sports camp and all the doubt was gone, and a fire was lit.”
Peach was selected to join more than 150 athletes at the 2018 Air Force Wounded Warrior Games trial camp at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, where he qualified, along with 39 others, to make the Air Force team. Each athlete participated in the tryouts for various sports to include archery, rowing, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball, swimming, track and field and many more.
Though there were many challenges Peach faced along the way, staying true to himself was important for him, his family and his teammates.
“People have this misconception that everything is good,” he said. “There’s a lot behind the scenes that I don’t talk about, but even on a bad day I want to be a positive person smiling and laughing. That’s just who I am.”
Peach continues to be inspired and motivated by friends and family while teaching his children that “You can do anything you put your mind to.”
“My biggest inspiration is my family,” Peach said. “Both my children are special needs and one reason I do this is to let them know they are capable of obtaining their goals even if they look impossible. I want to show them I’m not letting these disabilities stop me, and they shouldn’t either.”
Peach competed in the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games and won a gold medal in the 50-meter backstroke; silver medals in the 50-meter freestyle, 100-meter freestyle, shot put and discus events; and a bronze medal in the 88.01-107-k powerlifting category.