The Semper Fi Fund and the Nice Guys Victory Fund provided the funds to purchase the car, which was then customized by WyoTech students to make SSgt Tejada’s dream of driving a Camaro come true.
Tejada has been serving his country for 12 years. Since joining the Marines immediately after high school, he’s been deployed twice to Okinawa, Japan, once to Iraq during the invasion and once to Afghanistan, according to a press release.
On Nov. 11, while conducting foot patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan, he was struck with an IED that immediately took off both of his legs. Due to heavy enemy fire, a helicopter could not land nearby. Once reinforcements came, his fellow Marines transported him by foot back to the forward operating base, which was about one kilometer away. From there, he was flown to the nearest hospital where he was stabilized.
Tejada was released to outpatient status in January and has been going through rehabilitation therapy ever since. After his 1-1/2- to 2-year recovery, he plans on training for a different job in the Marines so he can continue to support the Marines that are forward deployed, the release noted.
His biggest regret is that he “could not return to Afghanistan to finish out the deployment with my Marine brothers.”
After the presentation, he was surrounded by his wife, mother and three children. “I’m happy to be alive, so having the Semper Fi Fund and WyoTech presenting me a gift like this is beyond my wildest dreams,” he said.
Four WyoTech students, all veteran service members, customized the 2011 Camaro SS with an Eibach Springs Pro-Plus Kit, Cherry Bomb exhaust system, MGP brake caliper covers and hand controls from the Ability Center. The respective companies donated all parts for the modifications.
Butch Lynch from the Imagineering Shop applied the custom paint job and Covercraft supplied the custom car cover screened with a special commemoration to Semper Fi.
“It was a great honor to assist the Semper Fi Fund in supporting SSgt Tejada and his family,” said Tom Stein, vice president of WyoTech Long Beach. “It was an emotional day for all, but especially for the veterans who were present. We look forward to helping out the Semper Fi Fund in the future.”