An Interview With JR Salzman: ESPN "Outdoor Sportsman of the Year" & American Hero

In the summer of 2005 JR Salzman won his 14th medal at the Great Outdoor Games and tied for the most medals ever won there. JR won the ESPY Award for “Best Outdoor Sport’s Athlete” from ESPN. He even got to be in a movie and log roll Steve Martin.

Other than winning the lottery, what more could I guy ask for?

Photos were taken at 2002 Lumberjack World Championships, via Lumberjack in the Desert


Later in 2005… JR along with roughly 2,500 other Minnesota Army National Guard Soldiers were deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom. This was the largest deployment for the division since WWII.

JR wrote these words before he left for Iraq:

I believe the good memories you have in life will help you get through the bad times. I’m hoping the deployment goes smoothly, but if stuff goes bad, I have something to fall back on to get me through it. For all of you that were a part of this last summer, thank you. My family, friends, fellow competitors, ESPN and Fox, thanks for the memories.

JR was off to Iraq.
But, then in December 2006 came this sad news from JR:

It is hard for me to tell you all this but I was hurt by an ied here. My right arm has been amputated below the elbow, my left has four working fingers. My legs are fine so l can still logroll! I am on my way to the hospital in Germany, then back to the states for more care. I am in high spirits. I am going to be ok, but I will have a long road to recovery. Please remember me in your prayers.

After months of difficult rehabilitation at Walter Reed and then the Fisher House JR made a showing at the 2007 Milblog Conference in Washington DC on Friday night May 4, 2007.

I was honored to talk with JR and his wife Josie (seen standing next to him in the video) about his recovery and progress at the 2007 Milblog Conference.
This is what he said:

JR Salzman may have been hurt badly in the war, but he is still the winner today that he was when he left for Iraq.
Maybe, even more so.

And, don’t be surprised if you see JR Salzman standing on the podium at the ESPN Great Outdoor Games.
He won’t be.

Lumberjack Down But Not Out

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