WAUKESHA (WITI) -- They were heroes on the battlefield. Now, they're heroes on the ballfield! They are the proud members of the Wounded Warrior amputee softball team.
"It is a comeback story for every one of these players. No matter where they go, they're treated well by small town America, big town America -- everybody," Dave Wege said.
Truer words were never spoken, because no comeback in sports can come close to the ones the men on the Wounded Warrior amputee softball team have made.
"I got hit by an IED in '07. I broke my leg pretty bad -- hip, elbow, jaw, you know, pretty much the whole right side of my body. They kinda put me back together like Humpty Dumpty," Bobby McCardle said.
When Hales Corners native McCardle stepped on a homemade bomb in Iraq seven years ago, the Marine Corps infantryman lost his leg below the right knee.
"I tell you what, when I first had the amputation, I didn't want to look at it. I didn't look at it for three days," McCardle said.
Thanks to the love and support of family members and friends, McCardle healed emotionally, as well as physically. At about that time, an Army veteran who worked in prosthetics decided to start an amputee softball team in Arizona.
"When I saw what was coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan in my position with the VA, the lightbulb just went off, so I'm one of those guys who was able to see a small spark turn into a major wildfire. When we got together, we saw what the camaraderie was with these guys -- the competition and giving them the chance to be an athlete again. It's changed their lives. It's changed my life," creator and founder David Van Sleet said.
When the amputee softball team made a stop in Waukesha last weekend, it marked the team's 200th trip. Every weekend, these heroes board a plane and travel across the country -- meeting people and winning games. Then, they return to their respective homes.
"Everyone's so supportive of us, and it's really nice to feel that. I always think back to all my brothers I served with who might not have injuries that you see, but they're just as much, if not more than the rest of us, and every thank you I get I try to relay back to those guys as well," McCardle said.
"It's amazing seeing him being able to run the bases and doing things -- things just like a normal person would be able to do, so it's good," McCardle's wife, Stephanie said.
Nate Lindsey served two tours in Iraq. The Illinois native, who was in the Army Reserve's convoy security lost his arm below the right elbow in 2007.
"Seeing the people come out to support us is amazing, and seeing these guys -- the coaches and the guys is more than inspirational," Lindsey said.
"As a dad, it means more to me than I can probably put into words. The healing for us is complete -- watching him play ball because we're an athletic family. It's come full circle now," Dave Wege said.
Dave Wege is the proud father of Josh Wege. He and the rest of the family take in as many of Josh's games as they can. Mom keeps score, and daughter Jessica is Josh's physical therapist.
"I can describe to people all day long what it's like to watch them play, but you just don't get it until you see it. I don't care how many games I've been to, how often I've seen them play, every single time I watch them, I have kind of a proud big sister moment for all of them. I'm always amazed. I always have a just 'wow' moment every single game I'm at," Jessica Grede said.
A book called "Battlefield to Ballfield has been written about some of the first players who were a part of these team back in 2011 and what they've had to overcome to play a game that they love. Their stories are inspirational, just like the team.
"I hope others that are dealing with the same type of injuries can see and get over that hump and be out here playing ball just like the rest of us," McCardle said.
"It's nice to let people know that there's no point to give up because anybody can do it if they have to. As long as you have support from family and God -- then you'll be fine," Lindsey said.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball team.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the "Battlefield to Ballfield" book.