Joseph Kapacziewski
The First Army Ranger to Go to War with a Prosthetic Limb


Master Sergeant Joseph R. Kapacziewski was born in Durham, Connecticut. He enlisted in the United States Army in September of 2001 and completed Infantry One Station Unit Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. MSG Kapacziewski has served in the Army for over 13 years in 3rd Ranger Battalion, Ranger Special Troops Battalion, and Regimental Headquarters Company. He has served as a Rifleman, Grenadier, Squad Automatic Rifleman, Team Leader, Squad Leader, ROC Cadre, and Platoon Sergeant. MSG Kapacziewski’s military education includes: The United States Army Senior Leader Course, Basic Non-commissioned Officers Course, Primary Leaders Development Course, Airborne School, Jumpmaster School, and Ranger School.


MSG Kapacziewki was injured by an enemy grenade on October 3rd 2005 when his element was ambushed in Northern Irag. He suffered severe damage to his lower right leg, tissue damage to his right hip, and his brachial artery and median nerve in his right arm were severed. He spent 7 months at Walter Reed Army Medical Center undergoing limb salvage before returning to Ft. Benning, Georgia. In March 2007, MSG Kapacziewski had his leg amputated below the knee due to complications with range of motion and chronic pain. He then went to Brooke Army Medical Center for 6 months of
physical therapy and learned how to walk with a prosthetic. MSG Kapacziewski’s goal after being injured was to return to a squad leader position and lead Rangers. MSG Kapacziewski re-qualified on the Ranger physical standards by conducting an Army Physical Fitness Test, 5-mile run in under 40 minutes, 12 mile road march in less than 3 hours, fast rope out of a helicopter, and parachute with a combat load. He then regained a squad leader position and was promoted to a platoon sergeant position.


MSG Kapacziewski was the first Ranger to return to the line with a prosthetic and has deployed to Afghanistan 6 times with an artificial limb.


MSG Kapacziewski has deployed 11 times in support of the Global War on Terrorism and his awards and decorations include: Bronze Star Medal with “V” device and (2 Oak Leaf Clusters), Meritorious Service Medal, Purple Heart ( 2nd Oak Leaf Clusters), 2 Army Commendation Medal with “V” device ( 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster) Army Achievement Medal (3rd Oak Leaf Cluster), Afghanistan Service Medal, Iraqi Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, the Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal (with Arrowhead), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Development Ribbon (with numeral 3), Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, the Army Good Conduct Medal (3rd Award), Ranger Tab, Senior Parachutist Badge (with Bronze Combat Jump Star), Expert Infantryman’s Badge, and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge.


SFC Kapacziewski is married to the former Miss Kimberly Smithwick, from Moultrie, Georgia. They have two wonderful sons, Wyatt, 6 years of age and Cody, 4 years of age.


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Back in the Fight
The Explosive Memoir of a Special Operator Who Never Gave Up
St. Martin's Press

Back in the Fight is an inspiring and thrilling combat memoir of the only Army Ranger serving in direct combat operations with a prosthetic limb.

Overcoming Adversity: In 2005, doctors feared that Sergeant First Class Joseph Kapacziewski would never walk again, much less serve in the elite Army Rangers. Kapacziewski tells his incredible story of personal courage, and explains what motivates him to return to service when he has already given so much.
Goal Setting and Determination: “When you put your mind to something, you can accomplish it” Kapacziewski told the Army Times. Learn how Kapacziewski made the difficult decision to have his leg removed, the future he looked forward to even when he second-guessed the himself, and the process he went through to return to the physical standards required for Ranger leaders.
Hunting and How it Played a Large Role in My Recovery: Joseph Kapacziewski counts hunting as one of his passions, and talks about how drawing on this passion helped him recover from his injuries. He has hunted in Africa and Alaska, and out west for elk, antelope, and mule deer.
Being a Challenged Athlete: An accomplished athlete, Joseph Kapacziewski has run the New York City Marathon, won the Challenged Division of the Army 10-Miler multiple times, completed the Chicago Triathalon, Chicago Men’s Urbanathalon, the Cap-Tex Tri, and has run long distance with Operation One Voice, among others. His experience speaks volumes to other wounded soldiers, and others who have been injured but want to get back to doing what they want to do.