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No stopping Iraq vet with no legs

Tony Bullene, Watertown, S.D., lost his legs in Iraq due to a roadside bomb, but that doesn't slow him down. Last year he helped coach girls' hockey.

As a member of the Lima, Co., 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, Tony Bullene was serving in Iraq four years ago when he was forced to make a tremendous sacrifice.

Though he can't remember all of the events, Bullene was involved in an explosion near Ramadi, Iraq, where he lost both of his legs. A fellow Marine died in that explosion on December 7, 2005.

Bullene now lives in Watertown, S.D., and is the grandson of Detroit Lakes residents Wally and Gerry Bullene. He is a lifetime member of the VFW Post 750 in Watertown, and is featured in the newest edition of the national VFW magazine.

Bullene, two other Iraq War veterans and a Vietnam veteran were taken on an all-expenses-paid trip to hunt antelope in Montana last fall. The VFW magazine story tells the men's stories and about the trip.

In Bullene's story, he talks about the day that changed his life. He was tending to some wounded Marines after an IED (roadside bomb) exploded when a second one went off on the other side of the truck they were behind. Shrapnel from the second explosion hit all five of the men, and "we all lost legs," he said.

Although he doesn't remember it, he was told that even after he was hit, he continued handing out medical supplies and morphine to the other wounded men.

Four years later, Bullene has since earned his associates degree in financial services from Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown and is looking to purchase a house. He has coached girls hockey in the past, but took this year off from that.

"I've been working with prosthetics now," he said in a phone interview from South Dakota. "It's going good. It's hard."

Bullene said he had a crash course in how to use the legs and is now working on it himself at home.

"I'm getting used to it again because I haven't done it in four years."