Blind Repairman Shows The Power of Determination

As the nation prepared to honor Veterans on Tuesday, one does not have to go further than Bloomfield to find a story of hope and inspiration.

The story of inspiration involves a young veteran who came back from a war zone five years ago without his eyesight, but he has learned to work on intricate bicycle repairs with his sense of touch.

Brian Tinsley was shot in the head while on duty in Afghanistan in 2003.  He survived, but permanently lost his eyesight.

Tinsley was a mechanic.  His role in Afghanistan on that fateful day in 2003 was repairing army vehicles.  He was working on a vehicle when he heard enemy fire. That's the last thing Tinsley remembers about his tour of duty until he woke up weeks later, back in the United States, at the Walter Reed Army Hospital.  He had been shot in the head, and permanently blinded.

"You wake up and you want to know what happened," Tinsley said.  He added that he still does not remember. He explained, "it was a gunshot wound that went through my temple and out the other side."  It cost him his vision and his sense of smell.

Tinsley entered the army right out of high school.  He said he was not going to make the military his life, but it did give him a chance to learn more about his chosen career and to get the benefits that went with serving in the army.

Today, he's a man who is at peace with himself. He works at the Bloomfield Bicycle And Repair Shop.  And according to everyone who knows him, despite his disability, he gets the job done.

Tinsley was hired by the owners of the shop, Michael and Rachel Wolf.

"It blows my mind to be perfectly honest," Michael Wolf said about the work Tinsley does for him.  Wolf said that Tinsley is able to take the bikes apart and rebuild them using very small parts.

The Wolfs said they could not be prouder of taking him on board. 

"With the right determination, you can do anything," said Rachel Wolf.  She said that she wished Tinsley "a lot of good things, but he can't leave us."

Tinsley lives in Bloomfield with his mother and two sisters.  He does some of the repair work at his home and some in the bike shop.

He's a man who has paid a very high price for serving his country in the army.  But he said, at the age of 25, he's not looking at the past, but is looking toward the future.

Tinsley wanted no special recognition when asked by this reporter.  But he did ask Americans to think about all the men and women who have served and continue to serve their country.

Contact Us