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So far this summer, six people have died on McKinley. Four of those deaths occurred last week when an avalanche caught a team of five Japanese climbers, pushing them into a 100-foot crevasse. One member was able to climb out.
The wounded warriors learned of the deaths, and posted this on their website Saturday: "Thoughts & prayers to the Miyagi Workers Alpine Fed. Expedition."
The combat veterans were chosen for the climb because of their attitude, their mental and physical fitness and the desire to improve themselves, Bauer said.
The group went through six months of training before the ascent attempt. Three climbers — Bauer, Acosta and Ret. Army Sgt. Neil Duncan of Denver, the other double amputee — previously climbed Tanzania’s 19,336-foot Mount Kilimanjaro.
If successful, they wouldn’t be the first with physical challenges to make the ascent on Mount McKinley, also known as Denali, an Alaska Native tribal word meaning "the great one."
According to statistics provided by Denali National Park and Preserve, Sarah Doherty was the first full leg amputee to summit Mount McKinley without an artificial limb in 1985. Ed Hommer was the first double leg amputee to reach the top of Denali in 1999.
If the soldiers are fortunate enough to summit, some have celebratory moments planned.
Martin, an Arizona Highway Patrolman, wants two pictures taken at the top of Mount McKinley. One is of the team, and the other will be of him displaying a patch from the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
"I want to show them that I do appreciate (them) sticking with me, not just saying, ‘Hey, we’re really sorry it happened to you, good luck in the future,’" he said. "But not only that, but had faith in me that I can do the job."
The expedition’s only active duty military member, Marine Capt. David Borden of Hanover, Pa., had his right leg amputated above the knee after an attack by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2008.
"Obviously I was injured, but my family and friends were also injured. Making the top is for them as well," Borden said, "and my way of thanking them for everything they did for me and the support they gave me."
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