Rob grew up on a farm in the small town of Lovettsville, Virginia. He graduated from Loudoun Valley High School in 2003, and from Virginia Tech in 2007. In his junior year at Virginia Tech, Rob joined the Marine Corps Reserve as a combat engineer at Bravo Company, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion in Roanoke, VA, where Rob (and his company) were primarily trained in using explosives, and the detection of buried IEDs and weapons caches.
In 2008 Rob was deployed to Habbaniyah, Iraq, and again then again in 2010 to Delaram/Sangin, Afghanistan. During his deployment to Afghanistan Rob was part of an operation to push into Taliban territory. On the mission, Rob was tasked with clearing an area with a high likelihood of containing an IED. During the mission, Rob was wounded in action by a land mine. The injury resulted in a left knee dis-articulation and a right above-knee amputation of his legs.
Rob was taken to National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD for the initial phases of his recovery, the initial stages of which focussed on healing and closing his wounds. Rob was then transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for the remainder of his rehabilitation.
It was at Walter Reed that Rob was fitted with prosthetics, and learned with absolute determination how to walk with two bionic knees. During his time at Walter Reed Rob also learned how to adapt to other challenges such as riding a bicycle, running, and rowing – the latter of which would play a huge part in his life to come. Knowing that he needed to set himself a challenge in order to become better and stronger after his amputation Rob decided that his challenge lay in training to compete and the 2012 London Paralympics.
After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in December 2011, Rob moved to Florida to train with his rowing partner, Oksana Masters. Rob and Oksana spent five months in Florida, during which time they won the trunk and arms mixed double sculls trial race held by US Rowing to become the US Rowing national team for their boat class. From there Rob and Oksana went to compete in Belgrade, where they won the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta to qualify for the Paralympics. After qualifying, Rob and Oksana moved to Charlottesville, Virginia to continue training until the Paralympics in September 2012. Their hard work and commitment to the challenge paid off – they brought home a bronze medal in their event. But the challenge didn’t end there as they continued to row through the 2013 season, eventually placing 4th in the 2013 World Rowing Championships.
On October 14, 2013, Rob began a solo supported bike ride across America which started in Bar Harbor, Maine, and ended in Camp Pendleton, California. The ride was 5,180 miles long and completed on April 13, 2014, a total of 181 days after it began. Over the course of the ride, along with his team, Rob raised an incredible $126,000 for the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, and Ride 2 Recovery, three charities that aid wounded veterans.
Between Fall 2014, and Summer 2016, Rob trained as a triathlete with the intention of competing in the 2016 Paralympic Games. But in spite of experiencing considerable personal improvement, Rob was unable to qualify.
In the fall of 2017, with the support of an incredible team, Rob set out to complete his next incredible challenge – to run 31 marathons in 31 days in 31 different cities. Beginning on Oct 12 in London, England, and finishing on Nov 11 in Washington, DC, Rob ran 26.2 miles for 31 consecutive days in 31 major cities in the UK, Canada, and the USA. In conjunction with this, his team raised over $200,000 for the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, and the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
Who knows what is next for Rob, but one thing is for sure. He is truly inspiring and we are delighted to welcome him to The Liner Wand community.