Margaux Emerson Mange
Rocky Mountain Hyperbaric Institute
Refusing to not live life because of her injury, and dedicating herself to helping other wounded veterans, Margaux Mange has devoted herself to her comrades, those still with us, and those that are not.
On March 3rd 2007, three MPs from the Army's 630th Military Police Company were struck by an IED while on a patrol in Baghdad, Iraq. Their Humvee was upside down, and in flames. The road was scorched, and the billowing smoke was black. They were all killed. One of these soldiers was a 21 year old from Pennsylvania, named Ashly Moyer, and her best friend of the same exact age, to the day, Margaux Mange, was running to the burning heap of metal and flesh to save Ashly. Margaux's sergeant grabbed her, and threw her on the ground, screaming, "their gone, you can't save them." For hours after, she sat in her own vehicle watching the wreckage smolder in the side mirror.
Margaux went to bed when they returned from the traumatic patrol, not knowing that this event, combined with the delayed effects of suffering her own IED blast three months earlier would change her life forever. When she she woke up, an entire half of her face was paralyzed. No movement, no expression could be made. She was told that she slept on her face wrong, and like a good soldier, she continued to go out on patrol until her condition worsened. She was sent to Landstul, where she was diagnosed with Bells Palsy, Trigeminal Neuralgia, and Occipital Neuralgia. She consequently underwent brain surgery, and was medically discharged from the Army. When Margaux looks back at the 23 months over two deployments she spent in Baghdad, as a teenager and young adult, watching her best friend get killed, other friends get killed, picking up dead bodies off the street, getting shot at, and blown up, she thinks, "that was not my dream." She joined the Army to play soccer.
The five years after she left Baghdad were marred by constant headaches that were so debilitating, she couldn't go up a flight of stairs. She was in a deep, dark depression of survivor's guilt, severe PTSD, and living with a brain injury. Watching TV was her past time, and she was in a constant euphoria from heavy doses of medication. She then became a guinea pig for a something new, Hyperbaric Oxygen treatment. She would breathe pure oxygen in a chamber that simulated being at 16 feet of depth in water. It was working. After 5 years, something was finally working. She kept getting treatment. She could wake up without a headache, and got more treatment. She could live. She began saying "yes" to everything, cycling trips, climbing trips, painting and paddle-boarding retreats. Then she got an email to climb a mountain in South America. Yes! Her next expedition would be to the South Pole. She really was living, and it was time to give back. She began taking wounded veterans into the mountains for a non-profit, leading over 10 trips. Why was she doing all of this? Because she could, and she had to, because Ashly couldn't. She was living for her, and now she had to let people in on it. In 2015, along with three other combat veterans, Margaux started a mission. The mission is to remember those who are gone, and return Memorial day to what it should be, for the loved ones and those lost. Culminating the day after Memorial Day in 2016, these efforts saw the names of almost 500 fallen service members get carried to 20,320', the summit of Denali, on American flags. She made it her mission to see that all of North America stood under the shadow of those fallen warriors. Ashly was on the flag. Margaux has vowed to continue to help her wounded comrades, and never let the memory of her fallen comrades die. She is injured, and sometimes is forced back to the couch, but any chance she gets to live, you will find her in the high peaks, doing just that, because Ashly can't.