How Green Beret’s skydiving accident turned into blessing

Posted at 10:05 AM, Mar 05, 2017

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Retired Army Major Mike McCave was a Green Beret in the U.S. Army - jumping out of airplanes on a daily basis.

"All I wanted to do was serve, ever since I was a little kid," McCave said.

But one day during routine training, McCave's main parachute and reserve chute released at the same time. The parachutes tangled and McCave went crashing to the ground at 119 miles per hour.

"Honestly it all happened so fast. The last thing I remember before I hit the ground, I just said, 'God, please save my life,'" McCave told WTKR's Merris Badcock.

"I didn't know if that was even remotely survivable, and if it was survivable, what his quality of life was going to be like from that point on," said McCave's best friend, Joe Agustin.

McCave and Agustin grew up on horse farms in upstate New York.

"I come from a service-oriented family. Our parents were both pastors, social workers," said Agustin, who also works as an officer for the Norfolk Police Department's K9 unit.

He says he watched his best friend go from being an man of faith and service to a bed-ridden hospital patient.

McCave didn't take his next steps until eight months after the accident. At one point, McCave says he was on 19 different medications.

McCave says the meds caused him to snap, and one day he yelled at his 5-year-old daughter who had come to visit him in the hospital.

"I just yelled at her for no reason," said McCave, tears welling up in his eyes. "My dad looked at me and said, 'This is not the man I raised. This is not you.'"

It was a wake up call.

"That was a real point in time where I was like, 'This is not me. I want to be off these medications. I want help, but this is not working,'" said McCave.

Remembering his love for horses as a kid, McCave decided to ditch the meds and turn to equine therapy. The therapy was so successful, McCave called on his best friend, and Agustin called on man's best friend.

Together, the duo founded Warrior's Heart Ranch in January, dedicated to teaching team building and leadership skills to 'warriors,' providing them with alternative equine therapy and even training service dogs to the warriors who need them.

However, they say 'warriors' are not just the men and women in uniform.

"Honestly, people like my wife who stayed by side the entire time while I was going through all my trauma, that was a warrior to me too."

That is why Warrior's Heart Ranch is working to raise money for Reece, a 9-year-old boy in Western Virginia who suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Last year, Reece's house burned down in a fire, killing his two dogs. In September, Reese took his last step before becoming permanently wheelchair bound.

"He is not asking for a lot," said Agustin. "He is asking for a dog. We both agreed that he is the perfect definition for what a warrior is."

Warriors Heart Ranch -- pairing a dog who is willing to give everything to a man who needs everything he has to give.