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NEWS | Oct. 2, 2022

Living every day like it's their last

By MaryTherese Griffin Army

Morghan Sirrine knows her husband Tanner is an adrenaline junkie. For almost ten years she’s watched him parachute, snow board and anything that provides a rush. Four years into their marriage on the day of her brother’s wedding in August of 2020, Morghan got a phone call that would change her life forever. Her husband Tanner was in a paragliding accident. “I was in shock and didn’t know what happened. All they said was it was bad, and we needed to get to the hospital,” said Morghan who added she rushed to Utah Valley hospital not knowing what she would find.

“I thought about arriving there and hearing that he was dead, and I would have to say goodbye. The whole way up I was hoping and praying he was alive, and I just thought to myself, I will take him any way I get him I just want him to wake up and remember me.”

Sgt (R) Tanner Sirrine remembers beginning his Army career as a parachute rigger. When he left that world and took an AGR job as a recruiter, he missed it, so he started taking para- gliding lessons. “I still wanted that adrenaline in me, and it was similar to what I did already,” explained Tanner. “I would never have pictured what happened to me. This was all very routine,” said the father of two.

High winds and a mechanical malfunction in his parachute caused the crash that would cause him to lose his left leg below the knee. “I had a TBI, brain bleed, skull fracture, right elbow shattered, right wrist, right ankle shattered, right tibia and fibula shattered and the left leg. The only thing good that was left was my left arm,” explained Tanner who, incidentally, of course is right-handed.

“I couldn’t do anything on my own. My wife and my mom were bathing me, brushing my teeth, and doing everything for me. It was very humbling,” said Tanner. He spent the next nine months recovering and preparing himself for the possibility of losing his leg which happened in May of 2021.

Tanner wasn’t sure what would happen next and then the phone rang. “I had no idea what a Soldier Recovery unit was or an Army Recovery Care program for that matter. Somebody at FT Carson called to tell me about the program. They sent me to Texas to BAMC and the Center for the Intrepid because they were great for prosthetics,” explained Tanner who was there for one year.

“It was a long year a lot of hard days. The programs like swimming, archery and different activities helped me realize I could still have a normal life I just have to adjust,” said Tanner. His family did have to adjust to this new normal after what he calls being in survival mode the past two years. Something his wife became an expert in for the family.

“I’m surprised how much support is out there for anyone with a disability. For us, there were a lot of things we didn’t know before that we do now because we have to,” said Morghan who is diligent about finding help when they need it. “We try to live our lives as normal as we can even with this new normal. We don’t focus on what Tanner can’t do but what he can do. We are thankful there is help in a variety of ways for the things he can’t do.”

Morghan admits after the accident she wanted to keep Tanner in a bubble but said he would often tell her they can’t live their life in fear. She is never surprised anymore and often amazed at his resiliency and drive.
“He just went wake boarding at Lake Powell. Of course, we were nervous to see if he could do it, but he wanted to try and felt really good he was able to do something he always wanted to do even missing a leg.”

“We try not to take things for granted anymore. We are grateful for everything we have and what we can do. And for me I appreciate being able to walk around, brush my teeth, you know the simple things I couldn’t do in the beginning. Truthfully, we live everyday like it’s our last,” said Tanner.

While they are living their best life with their family all together in Utah, Tanner is working as a realtor. He is still keeping it real in the sports world he loves and is enjoying taking care of his family. All things he says would be different if the Army did not have a program for him to heal.

“I don’t think I would be anywhere near [where I am now] in my recovery without it. All the medical expertise provided to me in San Antonio from the docs to the prosthetics, to occupational and physical therapy… it was amazing.”