STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – From Starkville to West Point Military Academy to deployment in Afghanistan, Cpt. Matt Savage never thought he would end up moving back to his hometown.
But a motorcycle crash in 2018 changed everything for the former sharpshooter.
“I would have never thought that the human body could have lived through what mine went through,” he said. The body that was in a coma. And then I woke up.”
Now retired, Savage may be a civilian, but the Army Ranger veteran is still finding ways to serve his country.
“There’s no giving up,” he said, describing the mindset that fueled his incredible recovery and continues to motivate him. “There’s no giving up on a flight and you have to be very dedicated to that and just keep fighting every single day.”
Nowadays, he’s traded his rile in for a hammer.
“I’m the official rank of ‘Mr.’ instead of ‘Cpt.’,” he said with a smile.
Savage partnered with Starkville’s Habitat for Humanity and Mississippi State to help build the 2020 Maroon Edition House for a local family in need. Monday, they held a ceremony to welcome the new family and dedicate the house in Savage’s honor.
“I got to actually walk through and see the house and all the hard work that was done to make it ready for the family to move in and live in,” he said.
The fact that Savage can walk at all is no small miracle.
Savage was on his way to visit family in Starkville when he suffered his life-changing crash. After surviving improvised explosive devices during combat missions overseas, it was an 18-wheeler in Birmingham Alabama that nearly cost Savage his life.
“I went through West Point Military Academy, Ranger School, etc., etc. Then through this life-altering accident that I had,” he said. “I always said that, once you have outgrown a place, leave it be there in the past and never go back to it.”
But Savage’s long road to recovery did in fact bring him back to Starkville. Now, thanks to Habitat, he’s helping others to do the same.
“Everything that was vested into me to build me and my character, who I was and get me to the places that I was going, showing me the harder right and easier wrong,” he said, describing how the city shaped him. “To me, it’s important to go ahead and try to give back to the community as much as I can.”
The trucking company that owned the 18-wheeler that struck Savage paid the settlement that was distributed between Savage and his legal team. Wayne Rogers, one of Savage’s attorneys, decided to donate his portion to help get the 2020 Maroon Edition House built.
“I think that was the sweetest thing ever,” said Santana Turnipseed, who is moving into the home with husband Chadrick Robinson and their five children. “I am so thankful for that. I’m very thankful for that. You know because (Rogers and Savage) didn’t have to do that.”
After facing the fight of his life not overseas, but right here at home, Savage hopes his story and example can inspire others to persevere.
“As long as you have a good character and a strong will and intestinal fortitude to get through that, then you will, and you always come out better,” he said. “Even though you’re going to have to go through some hard times to build that character, it will allow you to accomplish things that you would have never thought possible.”