The story of Damien Thomlinson, an Australian veteran of the war in Afghanistan, is one that continues to evolve and inspire people around the world.
Inspired by the military history of his Grandfather, Damien joined the Australian Defence Force and at the age of just 24 achieved his dream of becoming a Commando. This elite group is tasked with the most physically demanding, mentally challenging and dangerous roles in the armed forces.
It was while serving in Afghanistan with the 2nd Commando Regiment that Thomlinson’s life was changed forever. In April 2009, whilst on night patrol in Southern Afghanistan, Damien’s unit drove over an improvised Taliban bomb. Damien suffered horrendous injuries in the explosion, which resulted in both of his legs being amputated. The damage to his body was so severe his medical team claim it is a miracle he wasn’t killed, and there were many times throughout his immediate treatment and beyond that medical staff did not think he would pull through.
Most people could not imagine recovering and moving on from something as debilitating as the loss of two limbs – but Damien isn’t most people, and giving up is not in his nature. Instead of sinking into depression and retreating from the world, Thomlinson decided to treat the loss of his legs as another challenge to be overcome, a challenge that would forever change his life.
With no time for self-pity, Damien threw himself into his rehabilitation and set about re-claiming his life, on his terms – a testament to his incredible drive and determination. With a great deal of commitment and hard work he taught himself to walk again with state of the art prosthetic legs.
Damien uses his experiences, passion for life and journey to inspire and motivate. His best-selling autobiography, Without Warning, is an Australia best-seller now on its 3rd print run.
His ongoing quest for physical and mental rehabilitation has seen him undertake many challenges. He has participated in the TARGA Tasmania classic car rally, and has walked the demanding Kokoda Track. An active athlete and keen surfer prior to his injuries, Damien took up snowboarding as part of his personal challenges and competed on the global circuit. He was also part of the Australian Team for the 2014 and 2016 Invictus Games competing in a range of sports.
While studying acting, Damien was cast in the 2016 blockbuster Hacksaw Ridge, where he worked alongside Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn and Mel Gibson. It went on to be nominated for Best Picture at the 2017 Academy Awards. He has also participated in ‘Australian Survivor’ as one of the Champions in the ‘Champions vs Contenders’ format.
In 2019 Damien announced his intentions to focus on a golfing career, with an ultimate goal of representing Australia on the international circuit. He won his first professional tournament in 2020, the Victorian All Inclusive Championship. His dedication to golf now sees him ranked as one of the top 3 Multi-Amputee golfers in the world.
Damien’s incredible journey of triumph over adversity, positive attitude and ambition for the future stands as proof that no challenge is too great and that the ANZAC spirit truly is alive and well.
His is a story of reinvention, of embracing change and of approaching life with a mindset of positivity.