Purple Heart Recipient to Receive Handicapped-Accessible Raptor

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The Purple Heart Raptor brought tears of joy to a Marine Veteran who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan.

A very special Ford Raptor is on tour right now, and it recently stopped at a Tallahassee Ford dealership. This modified truck isn’t your standard Raptor. In fact, this truck isn’t further modified for off-roading at all. The purpose of the Purple Heart Raptor is to help a wounded veteran get his mobility and freedom back.

In 2011, Marshall Kennedy, a Marine vet from Arkansas was on foot patrol in Afghanistan, when tragedy struck, and he lost both of his legs. Now, thanks to the generosity of the Purple Heart Run and Ford Motor Company, Kennedy will have a brand new truck that is completely wheelchair accessible.


“The real purpose of [the truck] is to show mobility is freedom,” said retired Army Col. John Bircher, creator of the Purple Heart Run, speaking to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Dozens of people were able to take a look at the impressive vehicle. With a cost of approximately $100,000, with Ford Motor Company providing a $50,000 grant, the Purple Heart Raptor is made specifically for handicap accessibility. Obviously, since the truck is a Ford Raptor, this isn’t just your standard pickup. This truck has all the bells and whistles one would expect from the top of the line Ford truck, but with $30,000 worth of modifications which will allow Kennedy to drive “normally.”


Ford added hand controls to the vehicle, allowing for pedal-free driving. On top of that, the real showstopper is the hydraulic lift that was added to the truck bed cover. The lift allows for the storage of a wheelchair, that will be lifted from the truck bed and put in a position for Kennedy to maneuver into it.

John Bircher created the Purple Heart Run two years ago, with the purpose of donating a Ford truck to a Purple Heart veteran each year. As part of the process, the Purple Heart Raptor is making a 8,500-mile trip across the United States over a 45-day period. This year, the route began in Washington, DC and will end in Dallas, Texas where Kennedy will receive his truck. At each stop, people gather to gain information about the troubles that Purple Heart recipients have when they return home, if they’re fortunate to do so.


According to Mike Ford, Commander of the Tallahassee chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, only 25% of the veterans awarded a Purple Heart are alive to receive their medal.

So, how does the Purple Heart Run organizers decide which veteran to award? According to Bircher, that’s the toughest part. “It’s a hard, hard thing to do, to pick one,” said Bircher. “The key is someone who really needs it – they don’t already have a modified car or truck, they have a family, and they’re at least a double-leg amputee.”


Sometimes we tend to forget how lucky we are to have the chance to drive every day. As Justin Burdette, current driver of the Purple Heart Raptor on the tour and double-leg amputee said, “We’re really active guys, we’re always out doing something, and we don’t necessarily like to drag our wives and caregivers around with us everywhere for help. So this helps us get out to doing everything we like to do before we got injured.”

If you or a member of your family serves, or has served in the military, Ford Truck Enthusiasts thanks you.

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Charles Dean is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and Rennlist, among other auto sites.

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