John Wayne Walding: An American Hero [Video]

The actor John Wayne was one of my silver screen heroes as I was growing up. I admired his true grit. Another young man named John Wayne Walding (or JW2) is a real American hero and his story is one that I hope film makers like Clint Eastwood take notice of and promote in film what JW2 has done and is doing.

Watch this short video about JW2:


John Wayne Walding. Photo courtesy of Recoil Magazine.

Recoil Magazine recently Zeroed in on John Wayne Walding in a column titled “Still Standing“. Here are some notable excerpts from that article on JW2:

Highly Decorated All-American John Wayne Walding was the First Amputee to Complete Special Forces Sniper School. Now He Has His Sights Set on a New Mission: Empowering Veterans Through 5 Toes Custom.

[ … ]

As all-American as it gets, John Wayne Walding was born on Independence Day in Groesbeck, Texas. Ever the hard worker, John worked his way up the Army totem pole to 3rd Special Forces Group, where he served on Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 3336 as a communications sergeant and at the sniper detachment as a sniper instructor. Life for John changed forever on April 6, 2008, during the Battle of Shok Valley in Afghanistan.

On a pursuit mission to kill or capture a high-ranking commander of the terrorist organization known as Hizb-I Islami Gulbuddin, Walding’s 10-man S.F. unit and 60 Afghan commandos went up against at least 250 insurgents — at some 10,000 feet in elevation. Due to the terrain and weather, John’s ODA found themselves surrounded and stranded on a mountainside for six-and-a-half hours, being pelted with a constant shower of enemy fire and rocket-propelled grenades. So desperate was the situation that they radioed for “danger close” air strikes some 70 times during the fight, which rarely happens even once during most ground combat efforts.

During one relocation maneuver, fate gave John the hardest obstacle of his life. He was struck just below the knee by enemy fire. “I rolled over to see what happened, and my leg was folded over at a 90-degree angle, only holding on by an inch of flesh,” Walding says. “It hurt. Bad. It was the most debilitating feeling I’ve ever felt, and I felt no shock. I felt every single ounce of pain coming from the wound.”

All told, eight of the 10 S.F. soldiers were shot, and their lead interpreter (an Afghan named Edris “CK” Khan) was killed. The ODA had to make their way down the mountainside to try to medevac the wounded out via helicopter. This was a seemingly insurmountable task for the newly crippled John, whose leg was literally hanging by the skin. “I had to fold my leg into my crotch, hold it between my legs, and literally carry my leg off the mountain,” Walding says. “Then I had to scoot on my butt to the side of the cliff, roll off, fall, and scoot to the next ledge to fall off, and basically fall my way down the mountainside. Now I’m in pretty good shape and was in even better shape for the ODA, but I promise you, it took every ounce of strength to keep lifting myself to fall and keep moving forward. Easily the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

Read more.

JW2 is a humble man and is doing what he can with his God given skills. He has overcome diversity, been tested under fire and continues to stand with his fellow wounded warriors.

I cannot think of anyone more deserving of our admiration, respect and emulation. I think John Wayne, if he were alive today, would say the same.


5 Toes Custom is an idea of helping combat wounded vets and giving back to charity by building handcrafted precision rifles. When the founder, John Wayne Walding, lost his leg in Afghanistan, he had trouble trying to find his new “North Star”. He found his star through his close, yet unlikely friend, David Feherty. David and John met in 2008 they have played 0 rounds of golf but shot more than 10,000 rounds of ammo together. It was their love for long-range marksmanship that drove the idea to manufacture the most accurate rifle. John then found a master gunsmith, by the name of Dick Cook, to show him the art of handcrafting rifles. After months of empty Red Bull cans and broken bits Dick was able to teach a not so old dog a new trick.

John built one, two, then ten rifles and realized his new passion in life. But he couldn’t just build rifles; he needed something that meant more to him. 5 Toes Custom became a place where combat wounded vets could also come find their North Star. Knowing that there is many other transitioning vets; the decision to give them the opportunity for the same direction was an easy one.

The next step to ensuring something bigger is by giving back to charity. Even though 5 TC is a FOR PROFIT company, they will always give back by donating a portion of profits to deserving charities.

This is what makes 5TC unique. By providing the finest handcrafted custom rifle, built by great Americans, and giving back to charities, 5TC will always succeed in the firearms industry.

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