Captain America meets a real hero

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

EXETER, Pa. – Bryan Anderson is a war hero with a Purple Heart, and although he may not look it, he’s also a comic book hero.

“I don’t know how to describe it—to be in a comic book is surreal,” said the 28-year-old Quantum Rehab spokesman and Iraq war veteran. “When you are growing up and hearing about Captain America and reading about him, you don’t think that one day there is going to be a comic book based on you.”

But that’s exactly what happened last summer, thanks to a chance meeting with Marvel comic writer Paul Jenkins in September 2008. The comic book, “Captain America: Theater of War,” tells the story of how Anderson lost both legs and his left hand when an improvised explosive device (IED) blew up the Humvee he was driving in Iraq on Oct. 23, 2005.

The story is very realistic, Anderson said, except for the appearance of Captain America.

“I didn’t hear the explosion,” he said, recounting the event that changed his life. “I just saw it. It was on my left side. The next thing I saw was smoke and fire coming through my door. Then it was black. When the explosion went off it cut my legs and hand off instantly. They were lying on the floor board.”

Anderson spent 13 months in rehab at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. To get around these days, he uses either a power wheelchair, a manual chair or prosthetic legs. He joined Quantum in April 2007, and now spends a lot of time traveling and talking to clinicians and therapists.

“It’s a really awesome gig for me,” he said. “I really like that because some of those people don’t always see the outcome of what they do, what kind of impact they have. I get to go remind them of that, ‘Hey, you guys really do give life back to a person. They are counting on you to help them through this hard time.’”