Sergeant First Class Thomas “Billy” W. Costello enlisted in the U.S. Army in November 2002 after graduating from high school. He completed Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Jackson in North Carolina. Costello deployed to Afghanistan with the mission of developing Village Stability Platforms for the Shah Wali Kot District of Kandahar Province.
On September 20, 2011, Costello was seriously injured when he stepped on an anti-personnel improvised explosive device (IED) during a Route Clearance Mission. His injuries resulted in the loss of his right leg above the knee; a tibia/fibula fracture of the left leg; the fracturing of the middle and index finger of the right hand; and a blown eardrum in the right ear. He was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
While at the Warrior Transition Brigade, Costello was nominated for NCO of the Quarter for his performance in an internship with the FBI counterintelligence division and for pursuing continuing education with Georgetown University. As an aid in his physical and mental recovery, he sought out physical challenges, including the Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge. Despite being the only above-the-knee amputee on the trip to Mount Kilimanjaro, he helped lead the charge to the summit and returned with valuable research data for future prosthetic devices. After every summit, the group returned with footage and stories to help inspire the wounded to set lofty goals - achieved through partnerships and brotherhood.
Costello's many awards and decorations include: Bronze Star w/ V device; Purple Heart; Army Commendation Medal x 3; Army Achievement Medal x 4; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Ribbon; Afghan Campaign Medal; Korean Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Non Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon; Over Seas Ribbon; NATO ribbon; Afghan Campaign Medal; Combat Infantryman Badge; Special Forces Tab; Special Operations Diver Badge; and Australian Parachutist Badge.